It was very sad for me to learn of Ron Silver’s death. He was one of the few “name” stars of any entertainment medium that held to his convictions that he found after 9/11. Hollywood was the better for having a true son of the Republic in its midst. Vaya con dios, compadre. We will miss looking to you for inspiration.
Ron Silver died on Sunday of cancer, at age 62, having starred in movies, theater and politics. As an actor, he won a Tony Award in 1988 for his performance in David Mamet’s “Speed-the-Plow,” and more recently he was better known for his role as a hard-bitten political consultant on “The West Wing” on television.
But Silver’s most notable legacy was his real-life political activism. A self-described life-long liberal, Silver rallied to the defense of his country and his hometown, New York City, after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Three years later, he spoke at the Republican National Convention in New York, reminding his audience that “This is a war we did not seek. This is a war waged against us. This is a war to which we had to respond.” He had held similarly hawkish views during the Cold War, and he rebutted those who see America as little different than its enemies: “History shows that we are not imperialists.”
By his own account, he suffered professionally for those convictions, but he sought no sympathy for whatever price he may have paid in Hollywood for his stand on the war on terror or his vocal criticism of the United Nations, about which he made a documentary in 2005. In “Broken Promises,” Silver held the U.N. to account for its failure to live up to its stated ideals, even as his acting colleagues derided President Bush for using military force against tyrants. His brother, Mitchell Silver, told the New York Times that Silver’s politics “were not shared by anyone he knew.” His politics, in other words, were born of conviction, not convenience, which is one way to describe an honest patriot.