The lack of civility between conservatives and liberals is out of control. Apparently, it is now unacceptable for conservatives and liberals to be friends — or even friendly.
And that is absolutely ridiculous. Political differences should not be the litmus test for friendship nor the litmus test for the value of others as human beings.
Ellen DeGeneres — comedian, liberal and outspoken LGBTQ activist — made that point Tuesday on her TV show in the wake of the uproar after she was spotted sitting with and being friendly (gasp!) to former President George W. Bush, a conservative, at Sunday’s game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Green Bay Packers. DeGeneres and Bush, along with their spouses Portia de Rossi and Laura Bush, were invited to sit in Cowboy owner Jerry Jones’ suite.
Social media erupted with outrage as DeGeneres was slammed for appearing to share friendly exchanges with a president who started the Iraq War, and once endorsed a constitutional amendment against same-sex marriage, according to Washington Post reporter Allyson Chiu.
DeGeneres went on the air (and over cable) to defended her interactions with Bush and urged people to “be kind to everyone” (which, by the way, is always a good message.)
During the game, they showed a shot of George and me laughing together and so people were upset,” DeGeneres said. “They thought, ‘Why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?’...
“Here’s the thing, I’m friends with George Bush. In fact, I’m friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have. We’re all different and I think we’ve forgotten that that’s OK that we’re all different.”
DeGeneres’ remarks did not quell the uproar. Their outrage was focused on Bush’s starting the Iraq War and his stands against gay rights. It’s likely that some conservatives were equally angered to see the former president and DeGenerges being pals.
They miss the point DeGeneres was trying to make. She was not saying she agrees with Bush on politics (or that he agrees with her), but simply that she likes him as a person. They can exchange thoughts — political or otherwise — without a need to “hate” each other.
Yet, some people did get it, and that is heartening.
There was this tweet: “Ellen and George Bush together makes me have faith in America again.”
In the end, DeGeneres doubled down on her main message about the need for kindness.
“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. Doesn’t matter.”
Well said. Comedian’s call to ‘be kind to everyone’ is needed today