Celebrities regularly gather to celebrate their various accomplishments in beautiful and outlandish outfits on the red carpet, which serves as a platform for both fashion and political statements. On Feb. 10, the standouts of the music industry did just that at the 2019 rendition of the Grammy Awards.
Hollywood is notorious for being fairly liberal; however, that is a broad-brush stroke as there are also many conservatives. Two conservatives whose fashion choices expressed their political views on this occasion were singers Joy Villa and Ricky Rebel. Villa dressed up as President Donald Trump’s border wall. Her dress was silver and, on the back, decorated with a brick outline with the words “Build the Wall” in red. Additionally, she wore a spiked headband, had barbed wire around her shoulders and carried a red purse with the words, “Make America Great Again” on it. In a slightly more muted tone, but to a similar effect, Rebel sported a blue suit jacket with the words, “Keep America Great” emblazoned on the front.
When interviewers asked about her fashion choices, Villa told them, “This is what I believe in [the wall and our president]…One in three women are sexually assaulted when they try to enter the country and children are sexually exploited…This [wall] is going to help all people.”
While it is important to hear various perspectives on whether or not the wall should be funded and expanded, it is also important to have accurate facts and a strong argument. First, according to Politifact, the statement that one in three women are sexually assaulted along their journey to the border is considered “half true” because it is taken out of context and the statistics are hard to determine definitively. Regardless of the statistics, any sexual assault is a problem, but how will a wall fix this problem? For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the facts are true. In this scenario, an inquisitive mind might wonder how a border wall would prevent sexual assault. This argument commits the fallacy of ignoratio elenchi or, in other words, it draws the conclusion that whether there should be a wall or not is irrelevant. There is no relationship between a wall and sexual assault.
Let’s take a look across the United States. There are thousands upon thousands of walls and fencing, and yet with these in place, sexual assault is rampant. Current statistics on the U.S. show that one in three women and one in six men will experience some form of sexual violence in his or her lifetime. Over 50 percent of the female victims know their perpetrator: either an intimate partner, an acquaintance or a colleague. In state and federal prisons, around 4 percent of the inmates are sexually assaulted. Even when perpetrators are put behind bars, the problem of sexual violence persists. To put it bluntly, walls and fences do not solve the problem of sexual assault. What is truly needed is respect: respect for all human beings and living creatures. Women should not be viewed as sexual objects for exploitation.
Now let’s take a look at what Rebel shared with reporters: “A radical murdered 49 LGBT in cold blood at Pulse Nightclub. That could have been me…I voted for the person who wanted to heavily vet refugees. The other candidate wanted a 550 percent increase in Syrian refugees. It only takes one.”
Again, let’s examine what Rebel is stating. He claims that refugees are responsible for mass shootings like the one at Pulse, the nightclub in Orlando, Fla. It turns out that the perpetrator of the shooting at Pulse was born on U.S. soil. Rebel is forgetting the profile of the shooters at the most recent shootings across the U.S. at far too many schools and churches. That profile consists of white men who are in the age range of 20-49 and are born in the U.S. In the past year there have been 161 public mass shootings where more than four people were killed excluding gang related shootings in the U.S. and in all but three cases, the shooter was male. So Rebel, sorry to break it to you, but it is not refugees who are responsible for mass shootings in the U.S.
I believe the U.S. needs to stop placing the blame on refugees and take ownership of the problem that is being bred here. The time is now to take a critical look at a system that cultivates mass shooters at an unprecedented rate.
To Villa and Rebel, I implore you to reconsider your opinions on the wall and immigration policy or to find stronger arguments. At the same time, I thank Villa and Rebel for sharing their opinions because it has given writers, Tweeters and myself a starting point for truly questioning why the U.S. is fearful of immigrants. So thank you, Villa and Rebel, for being outlandish and outspoken on the red carpet. Thank you for raising awareness to your incredibly weak and fallacious arguments. I look forward to seeing what statements are made at the Oscars on Feb. 24.