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THOMPSON: Trump emboldens the likes of Roseanne Barr

June 04, 2018 - 12:00 PM

 


OPINION


I must admit, I never liked Roseanne Barr’s sense of humour. And that’s fine…obviously some people did like her schtick…and still do. But, last week, ABC Entertainment fired Roseanne Barr for a middle-of-the-night racist tweet.

Barr’s offending tweet - seen by most of her 744,000 followers - said "Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby = vj" about Valerie Jarrett, a Black woman and former top aide to President Barack Obama. It was a response to a tweet about President Trump’s false conspiracy theory about the F.B.I. spying on his campaign.

Just eleven hours after Barr’s tweet, Channing Dungey, president of ABC Entertainment, said “Roseanne's Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show."

Last week was not the first time Barr let her true feelings come out on Twitter. In fact, she has a long history of racist tweets, furthering absurd conspiracy theories and simply inappropriate behaviour. She called former National Security Advisor Susan Rice a “big man with swinging ape balls” five years ago.

She’s tweeted or made false statements about Chelsea Clinton being married to a nephew of businessman and philanthropist George Soros, someone she despises for supporting liberal causes. She called him a “Nazi” who wanted to “overthrow” America…both lies.

A Trump fan, Barr earlier this year retweeted false stories about the president breaking up sex trafficking rings and freeing hundreds of children. Also, she has parroted Trump Islamophobic tweets and supported the president’s most outrageous comments. The record is clear…there are no uncertainties about her racism and bigotry.

Barr, of course, offered this: "I deeply regret my comments from late last night on Twitter. Above all, I want to apologize to Valerie Jarrett, as well as to ABC and the cast and crew of the Roseanne show. I am sorry for making a thoughtless joke that does not reflect my values - I love all people and am very sorry. Today my words caused hundreds of hardworking people to lose their jobs. I also sincerely apologize to the audience that has embraced my work for decades. I apologize from the bottom of my heart and hope you can find it in your hearts to forgive me."

But you know when an apology isn’t an apology? When it’s insincere and followed by more bs.

Barr immediately started retweeting comments from those supporting her…many of them racists like her. Then, she blamed her original tweet on taking the sleeping aid Ambien. Really? I’ve taken Ambien on long flights to Europe…and never made racial slurs as a side effect.

Of course, President Trump took an immediate, strong stand, calling Barr’s tweet reprehensible and the antithesis of what America is all about. Sorry…just kidding…he said no such thing.
That is, of course, what he should have said.

What he tweeted the day after ABC fired Barr was this: "Bob Iger of ABC called Valerie Jarrett to let her know that 'ABC does not tolerate comments like those' made by Roseanne Barr. Gee, he never called President Donald J. Trump to apologize for the HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC. Maybe I just didn't get the call?" Of course, Trump made this about…Trump.

Here’s the deal. People like Barr - as well as everyday Americans and Canadians - feel emboldened after hearing Donald Trump lie and make racist and bigoted comments for years. He has made lying and racist comments seem normal.

I’m big on free speech…but words matter…and when you say things like Barr said…you deserve censure. ABC did the right thing firing her. There’s room in the media and throughout America and Canada for voices that represent all of us. But, there should be no room for the kind of hateful, racist language and behaviour that Roseanne Barr chose. It is absurd - by the way - that ABC has a higher standard for decency than the White House.

No one - White or Black, Conservative or Liberal, Democrat or Republican, Gay or Straight -  has the right to hatefully denigrate  those who are different…without suffering consequences. It can be as simple as the wrath of those offended…or as serious as losing a job. Sadly, hundreds of Trump’s comments…were they made by everyday folks…are enough to get them fired.

Meanwhile, Barr returned to tweeting just 24 hours after the flap…and within another 24 hours she had tweeted more than 100 times. These, of course, were all self-serving and not asking for forgiveness and offering an apology…but dog whistling to those who share her perverse views. Wonder where she learned that? People like Barr and Trump when under siege for doing the unthinkable attack others as if they were innocent…it’s a ruse…and sadly people fall for it.

But, when your best defence of a racist statement is “what-about…ism” - defending your racism with someone else’s earlier racism - the time has come to look beyond your tribalism. We all must demand truth, facts and justice…and when racism rears its ugly head we must call it what it is…abhorrent…and stamp it out.

Racism and bigotry cross borders easily. Roseanne Barr is an American…but I’ve heard far too many racial slurs about Chinese and East Indian and Muslim folks among others since arriving in Canada. It’s not right…anywhere…period.

These aren’t ambiguous lines. When someone - anyone - crosses lines of decency and says something intended solely to degrade or hurt others…we must stand up and do the right thing. And if it’s a politician…don’t let them stay in office. These Charlatans not only lack reasonable solutions or answers…they spread a virus that infects our institutions, turning citizen against citizen…and undermining our way of life.

Otherwise, we get what we deserve…and we all deserve a lot better.

— Don Thompson, an American awaiting Canadian citizenship, lives in Vernon and in Florida. In a career that spans more than 40 years, Don has been a working journalist, a speechwriter and the CEO of an advertising and public relations firm. A passionate and compassionate man, he loves the written word as much as fine dinners with great wines. His essays are a blend of news reporting and opinion.


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