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Why Is 'Outspoken' Hollywood Silent on Plans to Build Mosque Near Ground Zero?

Kirk Douglas

Kirk Douglas arrives at the 2010 Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood, California March 7, 2010. (REUTERS)

When it comes to controversial issues such as same sex marriage, global warming, and fighting Arizona's immigration laws, Hollywood has never held back in advancing their opinions. However, in the wake of President Obama’s announcement that Muslims have the “right” to build up a mosque near New York’s 9/11 Ground Zero, the typically outspoken entertainment industry is staying strangely silent.

A couple of celebrities such as Kevin Nealon and Russell Simmons, posted links to the story on their Twitter accounts, but withheld any personal judgments. Kirk Douglas wrote on his MySpace page that he was “confused” about the mosque plans because while he has Muslim friends, he also feels he it would be “painful” to the victims of 9/11 families.

Yet no other high-profile celebrity has seriously addressed the issue, and Pop Tarts' attempts to seek comments garnered a chorus of “no comment,” “unavailable to comment,” or no response at all.

So where are all the Tinseltown tweets? The agreement or disagreement over Obama’s decision? Why isn’t Hollywood speaking up?

"Hollywood was once a place that celebrated American values. All that excites the Hollywood elite now are the lefty agenda items of the day like gay marriage or attacking Arizona's immigration law. On more controversial subjects, such as the Ground Zero Mosque, Hollywood tries to ignore the controversy altogether,” Dan Gainor of the Culture and Media Institute told Pop Tarts. “Kirk Douglas is one of the few to express any comment about the idea. The rest hide in the comfort of their 90210 mansions. Perhaps Hollywood got too excited defending pedophiles like director Roman Polanski to care about anything ordinary Americans might support."

But according to Hollywood producer and the former story department head at Paramount Pictures, Mike Flint, it may just be a matter of Hollywood not yet being ready to turn its support against Obama – the candidate so many vigorously campaigned for in 2008.

“My feeling is that many in Hollywood are a bit upset and are against the mosque, yet don't want be against Obama,” he said. “So saying little to nothing is the best position.”

So could it be that hesitant Hollywood and the rest of America are seeing eye-to-eye on this issue? A new poll conducted by TIME Magazine showed that 61 percent of respondents do not support the construction of the mosque, as opposed to the 26 percent who support it, the rest remaining undecided.

“The arguments against the mosque are not based on ‘rights’ or constitutionality, but rather on being sensitive to the victims of 9/11, New Yorkers and the American people. If in fact one of the goals of building the mosque and community center is to reach out to the community and foster understanding, then common sense would dictate that enraging those who you're trying to reach out to would not be the method to achieve your goal,” said Mark Vafiades, President of Hollywood Congress of Republicans. “I believe that although those on the left in Hollywood would love to disagree with us on this issue, they either know that their arguments would hold no water or, maybe there is an issue on which we can finally agree.”

Ange-Marie Hancock, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University Southern California said that it is important for all Americans– including Hollywood – to distinguish between the “peaceful religion” practiced by millions and the “terrorists who pervert it into a cult.”

“There has already been a mosque close to Ground Zero, so to build a community center on private property is fully within the rights of those seeking to build it, and does nothing to tarnish the memory of those souls lost on 9/11,” she added. “In many ways, the effort to build a community center for the Muslim community recognizes that there are Muslim Americans who were just as deeply affected by what happened to the twin towers - including innocent Muslim Americans killed.  The 3,000-plus were not one single race or religion, and to imply otherwise is irresponsible and inaccurate.”

- Deidre Behar contributed to this report.

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