American Elephants


Charlton Heston, Much More Than a Great Actor by American Elephant

As you’ve probably seen or heard, Oscar-winning legend Charlton Heston died in his Beverly Hills home Saturday. He was 84.

I’m a big fan of grand epics and sci-fi, so, like many, I know and love Heston best for his work in The Ten Commandments, Ben Hur (which at 11 Oscars held the record for most Academy Awards for one film until it was recently tied by Titanic and Lord of the Rings), and The Planet of the Apes. And as a conservative I admire his passionate activism in support of gun rights and individual liberty.

But there’s a great deal I didnt know about Heston, and much I had forgotten…

  • In addition to playing Moses in The Ten Commandments, Heston also played the voice of God, and his 3 month old son played the baby Moses floating down the Nile.
  • Heston was a civil rights activist early in the 60’s, long before it became fashionable, picketing a segregated Oklahoma theater showing one of his own films, and later accompanying Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1963 march in Washington and other marches.
  • Long before he became the president of the NRA, he joined Gregory Peck, Kirk Douglas and Jimmy Stewart in supporting President Johnson’s Gun Control Act of 1968.
  • Contrary to almost every article that I’ve seen that has tried to portray his conservatism and active support for gun rights as a great departure from his civil-rights activism, Heston knew there was no contradiction. Heston said of his support for conservative causes that he was promoting freedom, “in the truest sense.”
  • In addition to his long, legendary acting career which spanned more than 60 years and included more than 120 performances in Film, Television, Radio and on Broadway, Heston also wrote and directed Antony and Cleopatra,
  • He served in the Air Force in WWII as a B-52 radio operator and gunner and was promoted to the rank of Staff Sergeant.
  • He not only served famously as the outspoken and unapologetic president of the NRA, but also as president of the Screen Actors Guild.
  • Heston was named, “Commandor in the Arts and Letters Order” by French minister of culture in 1997, and awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Bush in 2003.
  • His favorite performance on screen was as the aging cowboy Will Penny, in the 1968 film of the same name.
  • Heston has said one of his proudest moments was when he used his status as a stock-holder in Time Warner to march into a stockholders meeting where he read aloud the lyrics from the song Cop Killer by Ice-T and shamed the conglomerate into firing the rapper and dropping the album for which Ice T threatened to kill him. Heston’s response was reportedly, “let him try.”

Charlton Heston was much more than a legendary actor. As his family said, he was, “an adoring husband, a kind and devoted father, and a gentle grandfather, with an infectious sense of humor.” He was also a great American. When he died Saturday, it was with his loving wife Lydia at his side. They had been married for sixty-four years.

Rest in peace Mr. Heston. God bless and comfort your family and many loved ones.



Understanding affirmative action… by The Elephant's Child

The idea of “affirmative action” is widely misunderstood.  Philosophy Professor John R. Searle of the University of California at Berkeley explained it very well in an article in Reason Magazine in February of 2000.

[A]ffirmative action had a disastrous effect.  We created two universities during affirmative action.  We had a super-elite university of people who were admitted on the most competitive criteria in the history of the university, but then we had this other university of people who could not have been admitted on those criteria, and who had to have special courses and special departments set up for them.

Now affirmative action meant two completely different things.  When it first started out the definition was that we were going to take affirmative actions to see that people who would never have tried to get into the university before would be encouraged and trained so that they could get admission.  I was all for that — that we were going to get people into the competition.  What happened though, and this was the catastrophic effect, is that race and ethnicity became criteria, not for encouraging people to enter the competition, but for judging the competition.




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