While receiving another award on Oct. 21, actor Tom Hanks lashed out at President Donald Trump.
The award, which is presented at an annual gala in Washington D.C., “is the highest honor given by the National Archives Foundation to an individual whose work has fostered a broader national awareness of the history and identity of the United States through the use of original National Archives records,” the foundation explains.
Hanks took the opportunity to denounce Trump’s controversial condolence call to the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, who was one of four soldiers killed in Niger earlier in October. “I’m only knowing what I read in the newspapers and what have you,” Hanks admitted to CNN, “and it just seems like it’s one of the biggest cock-ups on the planet Earth, if you ask me.” He added: “This is a tragedy of the utmost consequence and it goes much longer beyond who’s going to come out on top of the news story. I think it’s very sad.”
Trump had already been widely criticized over the incident, especially by Rep. Frederica Wilson, a close friend of Johnson’s family who was in their car when Trump called. Wilson said said she heard Trump say Johnson “knew what he signed up for, but I guess it still hurts.”
Trump’s seemingly callous remark sparked outrage across the political spectrum. John F. Kelly, the White House chief of staff, defended Trump’s phone call, saying the criticism of his condolences was unfair, and accused Wilson of being a publicity-seeking opportunist, The New York Times reports.
“It stuns me that a member of Congress would have listened in on that conversation absolutely stuns me,” Kelly said during his statement in the White House briefing room.
As for Hanks, he also addressed the state of the union more generally. “People are upset about what’s going on today. They’re furious, they’re frustrated, they’re worked up,” Hanks said upon accepting the honor. “If you’re concerned about what’s going on today, read history and figure out what to do because it’s all right there.”
When asked about how to deal with Confederate monuments and other controversial statues, Hanks recommended having a rational dialogue. “Let’s have that discussion, let’s have that be part and parcel to an ongoing reexamination about what is taught about” American history, he said.
On a lighter note, Hanks poked fun at Trump in an appearance on “Saturday Night Live” during the 2016 presidential election campaign, as summarized by Entertainment Weekly.
During a “Black Jeopardy” skit parodying the famous game show, Hanks played “Doug,” a Trump supporter with a “Make America Great Again” hat. The joke was that Doug actually had a surprising amount in common with the black contestants on the show. But when the subject “Black Matters” came up, the host promptly disqualified Doug, saying “it was nice knowing you.”