Will Smith has stunned the world by declaring that even Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler was essentially a "good" person.
The Men In Black star, 39, is determined to see the best in people, and is convinced the former German leader did not fully understand the extent of the pain and suffering his actions would cause during his time in power in the 1930s and '40s.
He says, "Even Hitler didn't wake up going, 'Let me do the most evil thing I can do today'.
"I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good'. Stuff like that just needs reprogramming."
Hitler's totalitarian leadership as Fuhrer during 1934 until his eventual suicide in 1945 resulted in the persecution of an estimated six million Jews in the Holocaust, and his invasion of Poland in 1939 led to the start of the Second World War.
But did Will Smith really "declar[e]" that Hitler "was essentially a 'good' person"? The World Entertainment News story seems to be based on an interview with the Daily Record (Scotland), the relevant portion of which reads this way:
Remarkably, Will believes everyone is basically good.
"Even Hitler didn't wake up going, 'let me do the most evil thing I can do today'," said Will. "I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good'. Stuff like that just needs reprogramming.
"I wake up every day full of hope, positive that every day is going to be better than yesterday. And I'm looking to infect people with my positivity. I think I can start an epidemic."
It seems that "Will believes everyone is basically good" is just the reporter's characterization of Smith's statement. Nothing in the quoted material suggests that Smith was saying that Hitler was a good person. Rather, the quoted material simply reports Smith's quite plausible view that Hitler, like many other people who do evil (Smith must have used Hitler as a referent precisely because Smith acknowledges that Hitler did do evil), believe that they are doing good. I'm hardly a Hitler scholar, but my sense is that Hitler did indeed believe that he was doing good, as did Stalin, Bin Laden, and various others.
At most, given the upbeatness of the rest of Smith's message, Smith might be saying that everyone has the potential for good, if only they can be "reprogramm[ed]" away from their "twisted, backwards logic." This is not clearly true; perhaps people can't be so easily reprogrammed even in theory, certainly they often can't be in practice, and there's also the question of how they should be held accountable for what they did before their reprogramming. Sometimes stuff like that needs killing, as in Hitler's case and quite a few others. But surely Smith's message isn't outrageous, either, at least unless he said something stunning that the reporters for some reason decided merely to paraphrase rather than quote -- possible, but in my view far from certain. What Smith is actually quoted as saying doesn't seem like a statement that Hitler is a "good person," evidence of "liberal fascism," something that should "stun the world," or even particularly "nice things about Hitler."
On the other hand, to give blame where blame is due, the World Entertainment News should certainly be faulted for talking about "persecution of an estimated six million Jews in the Holocaust" (as InstaPundit points out, quoting a reader).