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Sean Penn Steps Up Attack On Wyclef Jean's Presidential Bid

Sean Penn is taking his attack on Wyclef Jean's bid for the Haitian presidency up a notch as he calls on the musician to withdraw his candidacy.

Penn blasts Jean for not spending time in the country in the six months after the earthquake that ravaged the nation and says he should have no place in the country's political process.

"I was there for those six months after the earthquake and so many of us on the ground wondered where he was when that kind of attention was so necessary and absent, and why he was NOT helping to keep this desperate situation in the news."

"None among us felt or expressed anger toward it, but rather a universal sadness for his silence, as he is America's most admired cultural link to Haiti. As the six-month Anniversary approached, it triggered the return of the world media, and of Wyclef Jean to Haiti."

"He'd referred to himself as 'His Excellency Wyclef Jean' and 'The most famous man in Haiti' on a self-generated flier in the lead up to his troubling announcement."

"I have never met Wyclef Jean, and all I really know of him on any personal level has come through the fond comments of a few mutual friends. Hence, nothing I might say is in ANY way personal, or intended to be lambasting to anyone. My comments were critical observations of a political candidate and a leader of an organization in Haiti."

"I voice the responsibility of Americans and the American media to ask critical questions before jumping to support a candidate simply because they are familiar with him. I ask specifically for those Americans, or American companies, to dig deeper in assessing their own agendas, who might contribute any financial support to a candidate running for office in a country not our own."

"It's clear that Mr. Jean can have an important place in drawing attention to Haiti's needs. However, when New York press agents circle wagons of ignorance and sell as deep insight the advertisement of that which charms them about a client, the lives and needs of the Haitian people are sidelined. The very notion of a celebrity feud is one driven by a culture un-Haitian."

Penn also attacks the singer's PR team, spearheaded by Marian Salzman.

"She reduced the political dialogue that took place that day by calling the discussion a 'celebrity feud,'" he says.

"In fact, a sensationalized celebrity feud is and was as far from my mind as the alleged 'lambasting.' Though he and his camp came back with many disparaging comments in my direction, I felt that ignoring my initial impulse to react and respond allowed the attention to refocus on the real issues facing Haitians."

"Ms. Salzman's is an obscene input. This said, it is neither my place nor Ms. Salzman's to cast a vote. My support is with the Haitian people, and whomever they lawfully select as their next President. It is, it seems, folly for we Americans to assume 'our Haitian' is their answer, simply because we enjoy the sense of identification we may feel, or are paid to espouse."

"He doesn't have to live in a tent. But it would be nice if he visited once and a while. Unlike him, I travel without the benefit of a security corps. I have traveled alone in the Iraqi war zone, and security had not ever been a deciding factor in any such humanitarian or journalistic action for me."

"Yes, I still support those Haitians who believe in him. But, I recommend that Mr. Jean and his advisers keep their future musings on more important topics than discrediting someone involved with a really good NGO. The real and devastating human issues in Haiti must be handled and led by a qualified president's deft hand. These elections are crucial, and I have no part in them. Neither should Mr. Jean."

August 26, 2010 |

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