Write off: Ellen DeGeneres’ friendship with George W. Bush

Bush should not be forgiven: Ellen chooses placation over condemnation of evil Timothy Hughes

Ellen DeGeneres is well-known for her kind and polite demeanor, witty sense of humor and generosity toward guests on her show. Ellen is a nice person so nice, in fact, that she recently gave a monologue on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” about the importance of being kind to people we disagree with and the value of working hard to become friends with them. Said monologue would be innocent enough had the subject of the speech not been former President of the United States George W. Bush, who she describes as her friend. Ellen believes that people should have a heart of forgiveness for those who have wronged us, but the ethical carnage that was the Bush administration is beyond forgiveness. Ellen is choosing empty words and placation over holding power accountable.

For those unaware of Bush’s appalling track record, it amounts to much more than the casual stupidity he is well-known for. In 2001, less than a year after Bush’s inauguration, tragedy struck the United States. Bush was in office during the 9/11 attacks, which saw the collapse of the World Trade Center and 2,977 American lives lost. Bush did an excellent job consoling and uniting the country following the attacks, but he also utilized that unity and vulnerability to con America into going to war in Iraq. The war in Iraq was fought on a false pretense that Sadaam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This was patently untrue and the Bush administration knew that. The true motives for going to war are not entirely clear. The war may have been a desire for access to oil, to ensure reelection or perhaps simple status seeking. What is certain, however, is that Bush lied to the American people to make this war happen. 

Through fearmongering TV appearances throughout 2002, Bush got the American people on his side and attacked Iraq in 2003. Bush’s successors have continued this legacy and since 2003, American forces have killed approximately 280,000 combatants and 200,000 civilians in Iraq alone. Their blood is on Bush’s hands. And while Ellen may forgive him for that, those Iraqi citizens don’t have the privilege of choosing to do so.

Ellen may also be forgetting to be enraged about Bush’s flagrant homophobia throughout his presidency. Bush came out in favor of a constitutional amendment to permanently ban gay marriage at the federal level called the Federal Marriage Amendment, which eventually failed. He spent a lot of time parroting typical talking points about how “God ordains marriage between a man and a woman,” blurring the line of church and state and using religious principles to oppress gay Americans. Politically, it wasn’t a bad strategy, as only a slim majority of Americans at the time were in support of gay marriage. Ethically, it was despicable. Bush’s stance against gay marriage was a large part of his reelection bid but is typically ignored as part of his harrowing legacy. This sort of bigotry goes beyond “political disagreement.” Ellen seems unfazed by it.

George Bush is a villain in this world and is beyond the public rehabilitation Ellen is attempting to give him. If Bush’s participation in the murder of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis isn’t personal enough for Ellen, his homophobia should be. Had Bush been successful, Ellen and Portia wouldn’t be married today. Ellen’s monologue reveals her priorities. She is more interested in placating the rich establishment with syrupy, empty rhetoric than she is interested in condemning crimes against humanity and the denial of the validity of her sexuality ⁠— something she shares with millions of Americans.

Ellen’s point that we should be friends with people we disagree with is not bad, but Bush is a monumentally poor subject for the argument she is trying to make. Tolerance of political differences cannot be extended to a man who chose to murder hundreds of thousands and attempted to further oppress millions of Americans on the basis of who they love.

Ellen DeGeneres is on trial in the court of public opinion for her choice in friends Victoria Davy

Ellen DeGeneres and former President George W. Bush were seen laughing in a video together when they attended a football game. This set the internet ablaze with opinions on whether or not Ellen and Bush should have been laughing together at a football game due to their opposing political beliefs. Later on in the week, Ellen defended herself against the backlash on her show. Ellen shouldn’t have had to defend herself because she should be allowed to be friends with whoever she wants. This situation reveals a larger issue; the public expects celebrities to be figureheads and not people.

Ellen on multiple occasions has let her viewers and the public alike know that she is a liberal person. Former President Bush is a committed Republican. Though they both have differing political views, that isn’t the be-all and end-all to their personalities. There are many conversations the two may have had regarding their beliefs that the public is not privy to. Even though they may not agree on every single issue, they are still people who could have similar interests. 

Many people on social media are of the opinion that all celebrity interactions should only happen with others who share their same beliefs. Though Ellen and other celebrities connect themselves to certain causes, that does not mean that they are bound to the cause. Their platforms convey some small part of their views to the public, but what the public sees is not the full story. 

Throughout Bush’s presidency, he did make a few decisions that more liberal Americans might find questionable. He called the 2004 Massachusetts ruling in favor of same-sex marriage “deeply troubling”.  Ellen has always been vocal about LGBT rights ever since she came out on her television show. Bush fought against a large part of Ellen’s identity so it is understandable that Ellen was criticized for being friends with a man who, through his actions as president, showed that he didn’t really care about her or those like her. 

That being said, Bush’s past should never overshadow that he is a person first and a politician second. If Ellen can forgive him and put what he’s done in the past, people have no right to condemn her. Furthermore, while she forgave him for his past actions, that does not mean that she has to forget or agree with them. Both of them were in a public place and if Ellen had reacted a different way, people on social media would have had something to say about that too. If Ellen had ignored Bush people would have said she was prejudiced or disrespectful. They weren’t at a political debate or a town hall meeting so they should have been allowed to momentarily forget that they are public figures and just enjoy being two people at a football game. 

If Ellen and Bush had been two regular people who had different political beliefs no one would have batted an eye. However, their place in the public eye means that people felt the need to give their unwanted opinions on the situation. People should be allowed to befriend whomever they please. People have differing feelings, opinions and lifestyles but that doesn’t mean they should be treated like outcasts. Intolerance begins when people aren’t willing to put themselves in the place of others. Ellen is showing that she can be the bigger person regardless of what others have to say about her.

 

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