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With Hitler remarks, Oliver Stone provokes, then apologizes

July 26, 2010 |  6:39 pm

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On Sunday, Oliver Stone once more caused a firestorm with remarks about Hitler.

In an interview with the paper's Camilla Long promoting his pro-leftist South American doc "South of the Border," he reportedly said that it was “Jewish domination of the media" that kept the Nazi leader as a villain, noting that in point of fact that there were other forces that should be apportioned a lot more of the blame for World War II deaths.

"Hitler was a Frankenstein, but there was also a Dr. Frankenstein. German industrialists, the Americans and the British. He had a lot of support," the director reportedly said.

Stone went on to suggest that the power of pro-Israel lobby AIPAC was the reason why foreign-policy coverage looked the way it did. “They stay on top of every comment, the most powerful lobby in Washington. Israel has ... up United States foreign policy for years,” Stone reportedly said. (The story is behind the Sunday Times' paywall.)

Jewish groups quickly condemned the director — Anti-Defamation League watchdog  Abraham Foxman noted that Stone's comments "conjure up some of the most stereotypical and conspiratorial notions of undue Jewish power and influence" — and on Monday, Stone went into apology mode.

"In trying to make a broader historical point about the range of atrocities the Germans committed against many people, I made a clumsy association about the Holocaust, for which I am sorry and I regret.  Jews obviously do not control media or any other industry," he said.

Stone continued, "The fact that the Holocaust is still a very important, vivid and current matter today is, in fact, a great credit to the very hard work of a broad coalition of people committed to the remembrance of this atrocity — and it was an atrocity."

This particular controversy isn't entirely new  for Stone — in January, while promoting his Showtime program "Secret History of America," he said that Hitler was an "easy scapegoat" — prompting many of his critics to say that the director's theories about American international relations go deeper than his favored topic of leftist politics in the latter half of the 20th century.

We'd actually interviewed Stone for "South of the Border" a few weeks ago, and while he didn't make anything resembling these eyebrow-raisers, he had a similar kind of off-the-cuff bombast. At one point in the interview, he suggested that the reason the New York Times had covered Hugo Chavez in the way that it had did lay with a closet racism — prompting one of his representatives to get on the phone afterward and ask that the on-the-record comment not be printed.

Part of the point of sending out Oliver Stone to promote a film is, of course, to catch attention for it. But shock-publicity is a double-edged sword, and sometimes it cuts the other way.

"South of the Border" is already a niche play. With these comments, a lot more people have now surely heard of it, though we're not sure that means anyone new will see it.

— Steven Zeitchik

http://twitter.com/ZeitchikLAT

Photo: Oliver Stone with Hugo Chavez. Credit: Cinema Libre Studio.

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