Ellen critics need to understand their hypocrisy

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TV personality and LGBTQ+ icon Ellen DeGeneres set the Internet ablaze last week. This time, it wasn’t anything to do with her role as the lovable Dory in the “Finding Nemo” franchise, a viral dance or her special brand of affirmative compassion. This time, DeGeneres was guilty of sitting next to former President George W. Bush, a Republican, at a Dallas Cowboys game.

As DeGeneres explained Monday in an episode of her talk show, she and her wife Portia de Rossi were invited to sit in the owner’s box at the Cowboys-Packers game by Charlotte Jones, the daughter of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. She explained her odd friendship with Bush, remarking that people should be able to be friends with those they disagree with  — at face value, a pretty agreeable point.

Scores of left-of-center publications and keyboard warriors alike slammed DeGeneres, who is openly lesbian, for being chummy with Bush, whose anti-LGBTQ+ policies had a direct, dangerous impact on the rights of the queer community during his presidency. As president, he supported a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and the Defense of Marriage Act. 

Twitwits also blasted her for her association with a man they consider to be a war criminal, referring to Bush’s actions in the Middle East that resulted in the torture and deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents. His use of torture on so-called “enemy combatants” is as reprehensible now as it was during his tenure as president. The entire premise of his war in Iraq  — that dictator Saddam Hussein had obtained weapons of mass destruction  — has long been debunked. 

He may be a goofy caricature and seemingly harmless, but Bush wasn’t a good president in many respects. Not many good-hearted Americans I know would spend much time defending him; I certainly won’t.

But maybe, just maybe, the Twitwits’ problem isn’t with war criminals or homophobes. It’s with conservatives, which is completely within their right to freely associate, or in this case denigrate, whoever it is they’d like. But it is completely disingenuous to suggest that the problem here is Bush’s shaky human rights history when his successor, former President Barack Obama, boasted much of the same.

DeGeneres has been a longtime supporter and friend of Obama, a Democrat, who engaged on some level in much of the behavior that liberals are rightly lambasting Bush for. Obama famously flip-flopped on same-sex marriage after supporting civil unions for years. 

In a 2004 interview, Obama claimed that marriage was not a civil right. As president, Obama came out in favor of same-sex marriage only after the issue had largely been settled in the court of public opinion; in other words, when it was politically safe to do so.

Of course, there’s no comparison between pussyfooting around an issue and directly harming an entire community on the level that Bush did. The real irony comes from those who preach about Ellen associating with someone who is, in their minds, a war criminal.

President Obama, a liberal who many claim is without major scandal, committed countless atrocities and allowed atrocities to occur abroad, just like his predecessor. 

At the dawn of his first term, he committed to closing the detention center in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, known by many as “Gitmo.” It is a very poorly-kept secret that the CIA used “enhanced interrogation techniques”  — in other words, torture — to extract information from subjects held at Gitmo. To this day, Gitmo is still up and running, allegedly without such “techniques.”

In the Middle East, Obama’s indiscriminate use of unmanned aerial vehicles, also known as drones, resulted in at least 162 civilian deaths just in the first half of 2011, according to leaked documents obtained by The Washington Post. Another estimate from a government watchdog puts that number as high as 7,500 in Iraq and Syria alone.

It is the duty of a conscious people to hold their leaders and those they associate with both personally and professionally to task. Ellen, or any public figure, shouldn’t associate with “bad” people. But that isn’t what happened last week. Last week, the Twitterverse found a new target and, like good keyboard warriors, went in like bloodhounds. It was never about Iraq or the rights of LGBTQ+ people to marry. It never is.

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