Oscar-winner Shirley MacLaine thinks Holocaust victims might have deserved it

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Noted actress Shirley MacLaine, who won an Oscar for her role in 1983’s Terms of Endearment and won a generation of new fans with her turn as Lady Grantham’s boisterous American mother on Downton Abbey, has found herself in a spot of trouble this week. But it’s not for anything that MacLaine did; rather, Shirls is under the microscope for a series of comments she made in her 2013 memoir What If…, in which she suggested, among other things, that Holocaust victims might have been paying for past sins when they were killed by Nazis during the Second World War.

The subtitle of MacLaine’s recently-updated book is “A Lifetime Of Questions, Speculations, Reasonable Guesses And A Few Things I Know For Sure.” Some of the suggestions it explores are lighthearted and fun: for example, “What if the entire cast of Downton Abbey was American?” And “What if frogs had wings?” Entertaining stuff you’d feel comfortable discussing in front of any group of schoolchildren.

But the exact quote relating to the Holocaust is this:


What if most of the Holocaust victims were balancing their karma from ages before, when they were Roman soldiers putting Christians to death, the Crusaders who murdered millions in the name of Christianity? The energy of killing is endless and will be experienced by the killer and the killee [sic].


As you might expect, her interpretation of karma has come under fire from both bystanders and scholars of the concept. Rabbi Abraham Cooper, of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, condemned the actress’ remarks, telling CBS “I think she made a terrible error. I think she’s wrong….Whenever anyone comes forward with a sort of one-size-fits-all explanation about it, I think the alarm bells go off.”

Nor did MacLaine–who once claimed that she lived in the lost island of Atlantis–stop there. Elsewhere in the memoir, she discussed Stephen Hawking and his ailments, saying it’s possible that Hawking “created the disease that has crippled him in order to learn to be dependent on caregivers and the kindness of strangers so that he could free his entire mind to the pursuit of knowledge.”

It would seem that William Langley, columnist for the Telegraph, has put it best with his headline: Is MacLaine “misguided, or mad as a hatter“? What do you, the viewers at home, think? Also: Her book came out almost two years ago. How did we go two years without seeing this?


(Photo credits: WENN)

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