I know this story is a couple of days old, but I’m still seeing a lot of people discussing it — and far too many “liberals” or “progressives” defending it. At first I did my best to avoid the topic, only sending out one tweet condemning it the day the story first broke, but after witnessing more than a few folks still defending it, I felt the need to address this controversy in a little more detail.
Look, I get it… trust me. Like most of the people reading this I, too, have a deep and unwavering disdain for Donald Trump. I honestly never knew I could loathe another human being as much as I do him. Everything about him disgusts me. He is, without a doubt, one of the most repulsive human beings who’s ever lived.
As I’ve said before, I’ll never be ashamed to be an American, but I am absolutely embarrassed that Trump is the person calling the White House home.
That being said, I’m also not a hypocrite. I’m not willing to sell out my own values as a progressive, or a human being, for that matter, because of my feelings toward another individual. What right do we, as progressives/liberals/the left, have to consider ourselves better than someone like Trump, and those who support him, by hypocritically acting like they do?
I don’t care if a lowlife like Ted Nugent said something terrible about Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton, then got invited to the White House. I don’t care if you can do a quick Google search and find plenty of examples where conservatives have said some absolutely deplorable things about Obama, Clinton, or any number of people from the left. Just because they behave in such a shameful and disgusting manner doesn’t mean we should stoop to their level.
As progressives, we shouldn’t measure our values, or what we feel is right or wrong, based upon “what they say or do” — it’s about who we are.
If the standards to which we hold ourselves are going to be based upon the way in which those we oppose behave, then how are we really any better than they are?
How many of those who’ve defended Griffin’s picture would have been equally as accepting if Nugent, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, or Sarah Palin had posed for the same exact picture, only instead of something resembling Trump’s head, they were holding up something that looked like Obama, Clinton, or even Bernie Sanders? How many “liberal” websites and blogs would have ignored that?
Probably very few, if any.
Had the situation been reversed, and it was a conservative holding the decapitated head of an individual from the left, as someone who works in this business, I can guarantee you that story would have been on damn near every single left-wing publication on the Internet. For days they would have squeezed every last bit of clickbait they could out of the awfulness of that picture. It would have been played up as a completely inexcusable act that showcased the hateful attitude that fuels the GOP and, in particular, the tea party. In fact, I’m almost certain there would have been plenty of debates over whether or not that picture was illegal and if those involved deserved to face some sort of criminal punishment for the heinous image.
To her credit, Griffin apologized. Furthermore, CNN fired her, while I’ve seen plenty of people on the left speak out against the controversial picture. Still, I’ve seen more than just a handful of people on the left, far more than I would care to see, continuing to defend an image that, I feel, is indefensible.
As I said earlier, this isn’t about how much any of us can’t stand Trump. It’s not about how some conservatives have behaved toward people on the left. This is about representing our values and our beliefs as progressives. I don’t care if many of us don’t consider Trump a legitimate president, or believe he’s betrayed this country, until all of that plays out Constitutionally and legally, as much as we all cringe at the reality of it, that orange imbecile is the “President” of the United States.
I don’t have an ounce of respect for him. I don’t even view him as my president because, as I’ve written about extensively, I feel his campaign committed treasonous crimes against this country on his way to “winning” last November. But I do respect this country, the office of the presidency, and that under no circumstances, no matter how much you hate the person calling the White House home, should someone be allowed to depict the leader of this country in that way — period.
Call him an idiot, buffoon, moron, stupid, jackass — all sorts of names. There’s no shortage of derogatory terms that can be used to describe Trump’s overwhelming idiocy and incompetence. But that’s entirely different than this picture Kathy Griffin took.
If you want to continue to defend it, go ahead, everyone has the freedom to make that choice for themselves. But in doing so you’ve lost any right to express outrage or disgust when conservatives do the same thing toward a politician you support. And I certainly hope, in the past, when someone like Nugent said something disgusting about Obama or Clinton, you weren’t too appalled or disgusted by his remarks.
As progressives, we can choose to either represent the values for which we claim to support and defend, values which I feel place “our side” on the right side of history — like we have so many other times before — or we need to stop pretending that we’re really any better than those we claim to oppose.
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