The Walt Disney Family Museum issues a statement in defense of its founding father after Meryl Streep branded the late animator a sexist and anti-Semite. In a lengthy post, the company explains why Walt Disney was neither and suggests the "August: Osage County" actress to get her facts straight.
In response to Disney's letter read by Streep that seemed to show the company rejecting an aspiring female cartoonist merely due to her gender, the Disney family organization explains that the limited role of women in the workplace in 1930s was not something practiced at Walt Disney Productions alone, but American business in general.
The org notes the studio started recognizing the employment and importance of women even before the 1950s. "If a woman can do the work as well, she is worth as much as a man," Walt said as quoted during a 1941 speech. "The girl artists have the right to expect the same chances for advancement as men, and I honestly believe they may eventually contribute something to this business that men never would or could."
The anti-Semitic comment is also denied. The family organization says Walt Disney made frequent donations to Jewish charities and employed many people from various backgrounds who "collaborated and created with Walt, side by side, with no prejudice."
"Walt Disney was not a saint. Walt was a human being who made mistakes and had many ups and downs throughout his life. His daughter, Diane, emphasized this many times, stating 'what made HIM human is what makes YOU human.' Walt suffered his fair share of failures, but he also had a strong spirit of creativity, innovation, and an optimistic outlook to keep moving forward," the group adds.
Also defending Walt Disney is animator Floyd Norman, who used to work for Disney Studios on animated films like "Sleeping Beauty" and "The Jungle Book". In his blog post called "Sophie's Poor Choice," he called his former boss "a man of his time" who "had his faults like the rest of us."
"He was not a perfect man nor did we expect him to be. Like most of us, he continued to grow as he moved through life and in time he recognized women could compete alongside men. He knew that talent had no color or ethnicity and he judged people by their ability to do their job and do it well... Hardly an American to be vilified. Walt Disney deserves to be celebrated," he wrote.
Furthermore, Disney biographer Neal Gabler insists that Walt was not anti-Semite. Walt did once join anti-communist, anti-Semitic group, the Motion Picture Alliance for the Preservation of American Ideals, but he paid a price for his association with the group. "He willingly allied himself with people who were anti-Semitic, and that reputation stuck. He was never really able to expunge it throughout his life," Gabler said as quoted by LA Times.