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'They make me vomit': Richard Dreyfuss blasts Hollywood's diversity rules, civics education

Image source: PBS "Firing Line" YouTube screenshot

Actor Richard Dreyfuss lambasted Hollywood's diversity standards and America's failures in civics education on PBS's "Firing Line" Friday.

"They make me vomit," Dreyfuss said of representation and inclusion standards put in place by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Oscars eligibility in the Best Picture category.

"This is an art form ... no one should be telling me as an artist that I have to give in to the latest, most current idea of what morality is ... I don’t think that there is a minority or a majority in the country that has to be catered to like that."

The standards require a certain percentage of cast and crew come from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups, are women, are non-heterosexual, or have cognitive or physical disabilities.

"Firing Line" host Margaret Hoover also asked the Oscar winner about whether he thinks there is is a difference between representation in general who is allowed to represent other groups, including the use of blackface.

"There shouldn't be ... Because it’s patronizing. Because it says that we’re so fragile that we can’t have our feelings hurt," Dreyfuss answered, in part.

Moving to the topic of civics education, Dreyfuss was equally blunt.

Dreyfuss told Hoover a story of his own education in civics. He explained that his mother, a "communist, and she wasn't kidding" raised him in a very leftist community. His mother and one of his middle grade teachers, a Republican who "never tried to keep her GOP atmosphere away from her teaching," would debate American history.

Dreyfess identified "the honor of dissent" as a pivotal missing element in today's civics education.

"The idea that you sought the truth in history and you didn’t fool around about it. You told the truth. Period. And that was that. You don’t stop at the water’s edge and not commit to critical analysis," he said.

Dreyfuss developed his Dreyfuss Civics Initiative curriculum in 2006. On DCI's website, Dreyfess explains why he believes prioritizing civics education is crucial.

"Teach our kids how to run our country, before they are called upon to run our country ... if we don't, someone else will run our country."

Dreyfuss and Hoover delved deeper into his concerns about both civics education and civility generally.

"People confuse being exposed to an opposing view on any subject with being a traitor or with being a subversive. And that’s a kind of nonsense that is so immature that it’s beyond the immaturity of normal adults," he said.

"I think we’re cowards ... the idea that a parent would walk into a public school and say, 'I don’t want my children exposed to opposing views,' That’s wrong. That’s wrong of the parent."

"I think we’re in the endgame right now," Dreyfuss also said.

"I think that we could let slip the greatest idea for governance ever devised, and we won’t even know that it happened."

Watch Margaret Hoover's interview with Richard Dreyfuss on PBS's "Firing Line" below.

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