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James Cromwell Superglued Himself to a Starbucks Counter and We Have to Respect It

James Cromwell has been a fixture of Hollywood since long before most of us were born, turning in his most iconic performances in movies like L.A. Confidential, The Green Mile and, of course, the beloved farmer in Babe. But he’s also a lifelong activist, having gotten himself arrested for his work drawing attention to racism, animal cruelty and greedy oil tycoons.

So when Cromwell superglued his hand to a Starbucks counter in Midtown Manhattan, it should be seen as less an aberrant event and more another event in a long life of dedication to an eclectic number of justice causes. In this case, Cromwell was drawing attention to Starbucks’ policy of charging extra for plant-based milk — something PETA (for which Cromwell serves as an honorary director) says discourages customers from adopting vegetarian lifestyles.

“More than 13,000 customers have asked you,” said Cromwell from the counter where he was stuck. “Now we’re asking: Will you stop charging more for vegan milk? When will you stop raking in huge profits while customers, animals and the environment suffer?”

“Cows produce milk for the same reason humans do: to nourish their young. But in the dairy industry, they give birth and their babies are taken from them almost immediately so that their milk can be sold. Mother cows cry for their infants for days,” Cromwell continued, reading from a prepared speech. “They suffer no less than human mothers would.”

You can argue with Cromwell’s words but not his commitment. In 1964, a tour of the American South convinced him to get involved in the Civil Rights Movement, and he eventually campaigned for the release of imprisoned members of the Black Panther Party as a member of the Committee to Defend the Panthers. His time on Babe convinced him to become a vegetarian and sparked his interest in advocating for kinder treatment of animals. He’s been arrested many times, mostly for protesting animal drug testing and dangerous fossil fuel mining.

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Full credit where it’s due: he’s an equal opportunity protestor. In 2017, he had to be escorted out of a Democratic Party fundraiser attended by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi where he was raising awareness about underground gas storage near Seneca Lake. While in 2008, he said former President George W. Bush and the GOP would “either destroy us or the entire planet.”

So while your pet causes may not be the same as Cromwell’s, nobody can accuse the man of the sort of limpwristed, halfhearted celebrity “awareness raising” that often passes for real advocacy in Hollywood circles — not to mention our own. Hate the player if you must, but it’s hard not to respect the game. “That’ll do, James. That’ll do.”

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