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Look at our baby!  Now, don't look!

Brangelina's Namibian adventure sets a troubling precedent for how celebrities respond to public attention.
/ Source: msnbc.com contributor

Allegedly fed up with Hollywood trappings, Beverly Hillbilly Britney Spears is turning her back on the paparazzi, Kabbalah and — as we saw in — handlers, stylists and self-respect.

But like us regular folk, she’s still entranced with celebrity It Couple Brangelina. According to a quickly quashed rumor, Britney had been considering Namibia, the obscure African It Baby birthplace, as spawning ground for Federletus II.

OK, a publicist suddenly appeared to deny Britney said any such thing. But c’mon! The Namibia idea is just the sort of hokum that would come out of Britney’s gum-smacking mouth. She’s a follower. She was a Mouseketeer, remember. She followed Madonna into Kabbalah before dumping it to declare baby Sean Preston her religion. No wonder she digs Brangelina’s Rough Guide to Celebrity Child Birth. Apparently, Brangelina’s religion is their baby, too. They did name the kid New Messiah, at least according to for Shiloh Nouvel.

So maybe someone slapped some sense into Britney’s head (and the Juicy Fruit out of her mouth) before she inspired another visit from the L.A. Department of Children and Family Services. But what hath Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt wrought? Will paparazzi-hating celebrities now take their personal business to a Third World nation whose cash-poor government is only too happy to jail journalists, browbeat paparazzi and otherwise kowtow to celebrities?

Before Brangelina, Michael Jackson (remember him?) did something similar. Soon after his 2005 child molestation acquittal, Jackson fled Neverland with Blanket & Co. to roam the United Arab Emirates, where he now depends on the kindness of royalty. Even if Jackson’s cash flow is in distress, he can still barter his tarnished fame and surround himself with wealthy yes men. It seems that hanging with look-the-other-way sultans is a far wiser move than cowering in Los Olivos.

The award-winning actress and activist is one half of one of Hollywood’s most powerful couples.

Now Jackson, perhaps spurred by Jolie’s adoption of two foreign children, is looking to adopt his own from Japan. No self-respecting U.S. adoption agency is going to give him an American kid. Even if past charges are groundless, he still falls 50 miles short of responsible parenthood. Which brings us to the obligatory Britney cheap shot: Maybe the Namibian government isn’t so strict with car seat laws. According to one Namibian rights group, they certainly look shaky on civil rights.

Anything for a starTo ensure the comfort and privacy of their Hollywood guests, Namibian police, along with Brangelina’s bodyguards, allegedly conducted unwarranted door-to-door searches for paparazzi — those same foul creatures who forced Britney to forego a car seat. Despite accusations from Namibia’s National Society of Human Rights, a police spokesperson denied that any journalists or residents were harassed or brutalized. Still, Namibia made good on its vow to protect Brangelina: expelling three French paparazzi and a South African photographer.

So Jackson is too creepy to defend, and Britney’s charity doesn’t extend beyond giving K-Fed her PIN number. As a U.N. Goodwill Ambassador, Angelina Jolie that she’s bringing attention to Third World woes. She recently told Anderson Cooper that she and Pitt are looking to add another adopted child to the Brangelina brood. According to Angelina, it's just a matter of “which country, which race would fit best with the kids.”

But for all her humanitarian work, Angelina thinks globally and fails to act locally. This is where we’re heading, kids. The rich can use wealth and inclination to get royal treatment, and the vanishing middle class can eat it.

If Angelina admitted she gave birth on the other side of the planet just to get away from her estranged dad Jon Voight, we might could forgive her. But no. Angelina tells us about sick, starving children and auctions baby pics for charity. Meanwhile, she and baby daddy Pitt are happy to be honored guests in a nation with a tenuous grasp on civil liberties.

Back home, our own civil rights crumble around our ears, the Feds have secured the right to listen to our phone calls and the Supreme Court just OK'd it for cops to barge into our homes without knocking. (Maybe we’re hiding paparazzi!)

Brangelina may have wished to bring their child into the world in a very special way, but when you consider the message their Namibian adventure sent, perhaps they're doing their small part to wreck the world in which that kid must live.

Oh, well. Let them eat People magazine.

New York-based writer Helen A.S. Popkin is just jealous.