On Thursday, Deadline published an op-ed by George Clooney wherein the Hollywood actor called for a boycott of the luxury suite of hotels in the Dorchester Collection owned by the Brunei Investment Agency, a corporation run by the government of Brunei. Those nine hotels are: The Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills; the Hotel Bel-Air in Los Angeles; The Dorchester in London; 45 Park Lane in London; Coworth Park in Ascot; Le Meurice in Paris; Hotel Plaza Athenee in Paris; Hotel Eden in Rome; and the Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan.
Clooney’s call to action came in response to the news that on April 3, a new law will go into effect in Brunei that will sentence those caught engaging in gay sex or adultery to death by stoning. The law, which the Trump administration has refused to condemn, was initially announced in 2014, prompting a brief Hollywood boycott of The Beverly Hills Hotel and the Hotel Bel-Air.
“They’re nice hotels. The people who work there are kind and helpful and have no part in the ownership of these properties,” wrote Clooney. “But let’s be clear, every single time we stay at or take meetings at or dine at any of these nine hotels we are putting money directly into the pockets of men who choose to stone and whip to death their own citizens for being gay or accused of adultery.”
And so, on Friday night’s edition of Real Time, host Bill Maher and his panel of “experts” took it upon themselves to mock Clooney for his political stand, with the comedian branding Clooney’s efforts “chickenshit tokenism because, what about Saudi Arabia? If you really want to get back at them, stop driving. Don’t use oil.” (Brunei is an incredibly oil-rich country.)
Panelist Andrew Sullivan, beloved by the far-right trolls of Breitbart, objected to Clooney’s boycott because: “We shouldn’t be dictating our lives like a religion, according to the dictates of wokeness. It kills the vitality of a free society.” In recent years, Sullivan has consistently found common ground with those on the far-right, branding the left “neo-Marxists” engaging in “unvarnished race and gender warfare.” And it is unclear how exercising one’s First Amendment rights, as Clooney has done, “kills the vitality of a free society.”
“George Clooney’s a smart guy who knows about the issues in the Middle East. He made a movie about it called Syriana,” Maher quipped.
For the record, Clooney’s wife, Amal, is a star barrister of Lebanese descent who’s developed a sterling reputation representing everyone from political dissidents to kidnapped ISIS brides, and served as a United Nations’ adviser on Syria. Clooney is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a UN Messenger of Peace, and personally sent 3,000 Syrian refugees to school. Maher regularly trades in Islamophobia.