On Sunday, openly gay comedian and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres was photographed with former President George W. Bush at a Dallas Cowboys game. Shortly after the photo hit social media, many progressives skewered the comedian for sitting next to the Republican.
On Tuesday, DeGeneres used a segment of her daily show to speak about her friendship with Bush, as well as the fact that she is “friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs” as she does.
We’re all different, and I think we’ve forgotten that that’s okay, that we’re all different … just because I don’t agree with someone on everything, doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them. When I say be kind to one another, I don’t mean only the people that think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone.
As The Daily Wire’s Paul Bois reported, the comedian’s monologue didn’t sit well with some progressives.
In a piece, titled: “Ellen DeGeneres, George W. Bush, and the Limits of Unconditional Kindness,” Vanity Fair’s Laura Bradley tore into DeGeneres.
After referring to President Bush as a “man whose résumé includes the invasion of Iraq and the botched federal response to Hurricane Katrina,” Bradley claimed that DeGeneres’ “brand” of “celebrity whisperer who can befriend just about anyone” is simply “incompatible with reality.”
The mainstream media backlash didn’t stop there.
On Wednesday, VICE published a piece by Harron Walker, titled: “Ellen and Science Confirm: Rich People Only Care About Themselves.”
In the piece, Walker states that Americans shouldn’t be surprised by DeGeneres and Bush “yukking it up” because “rich people love hanging out with other rich people,” and “often struggle with holding empathy” for others.
Still, it is confusing to think about how DeGeneres, one of the nation’s foremost openly gay celebrities would, could look past Bush’s years of using the bully pulpit to advocate against LGBTQ rights—not to mention, uhhhh, the unnecessary wars he started in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have killed millions of people and traumatized countless others.
Walker goes on to suggest that DeGeneres’ explanation of her “cognitive dissonance” wasn’t enough, writing that “disagreeing about the Bush administration’s ongoing legacy of global violence against Muslim people seems like more than just a difference of opinion.”
She further suggests that DeGeneres might not care, citing studies conducted by Paul Diff and Dacher Keltner of UC Berkeley, which allegedly claim that when an individual accumulates more wealth, “the less likely that person is to have compassion and empathy for other people, and to use their wealth to help others in need.”
The backlash against DeGenerous has even crept outside the boundaries of the media, with celebrities taking sides.
Actress Reese Witherspoon initially defended DeGeneres, tweeting, “Thank you for this important reminder, Ellen.” However, Witherspoon eventually deleted the tweet.
Unsurprisingly, other actors are hammering the talk show host.
Actor Mark Ruffalo sent out the following tweet:
Sorry, until George W. Bush is brought to justice for the crimes of the Iraq War, (including American-lead torture, Iraqi deaths & displacement, and the deep scars—emotional & otherwise—inflicted on our military that served his folly), we can’t even begin to talk about kindness. https://t.co/dpMwfck6su
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) October 9, 2019
Sorry, until George W. Bush is brought to justice for the crimes of the Iraq War, (including American-lead torture, Iraqi deaths & displacement, and the deep scars—emotional & otherwise—inflicted on our military that served his folly), we can’t even begin to talk about kindness.
Actor John Cusack has gone further, tweeting repeatedly about the story, and even promoting a video from activist Rafael Shimunov in which images from the Iraq War are superimposed on screen behind DeGeneres as she delivers her monologue in defense of her friendship with Bush.