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What Barbra wanted to say on Sunday

Special to Variety

Respecting the wishes of the producers at the Oscar ceremony, Barbra Streisand’s comments on Sunday were concise and apolitical. However, what follows is a transcript of her prepared remarks which she gave to Daily Variety. She had planned to express this to the media, if asked, after the Oscars, rather than as a presenter.

I pray for America’s military servicemen and women and their families, and that this war is over quickly, that our troops come home safely and that there are few civilian casualties.

I find it tragic that the Bush administration’s attempts at diplomacy failed so miserably and have led us to the point of starting a war that might have been avoided.

Thank God the Constitution enables all citizens to exercise their freedom of speech to say what they believe. That’s what’s great about democracy and what’s great about this country.

In fact, Theodore Roosevelt said, “To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we must stand by the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”

How dare the media call people who speak out against the war unpatriotic. Exercising freedom of speech is an extremely patriotic act.

I have been arguing that point for many years now, that artists have just as much of a right to speak out as every other citizen. In 1995, I gave a speech at Harvard called “The Artist as Citizen.”

I made the point then and many times since that artists are citizens first and artists second. We have opinions and ideas, just like anybody else. The difference is that we are given more visibility from which to speak — so we have to be informed and we have to be responsible, but it doesn’t mean we have to be quiet.