The Dallas Cowboys recently had an unlikely duo spectating their Sunday, Oct. 6 home game. Ellen Degeneres resided in a private suite with wife Portia De Rossi on her left, and former U.S president, George W. Bush, on her right, according to Fox News. The talk show host and comedian received serious backlash, as a shot of them from the game showed Degeneres and Bush laughing and enjoying each others company.
The shot that aired during the Dallas game which fueled the backlash Degeneres received caused many to be disappointed in Degeneres. Bush, a conservative Republican, goes against what Degeneres stands for, especially as Degeneres is a part of the LGBTQ+ community. Therefore, the backlash surrounded the question, “Why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?”
As the backlash came from various media outlets, on Oct. 7, Degeneres fought back against the negativity on Twitter. She shared a clip from her talk show where she addressed the situation with her familiar charm. Degeneres stated, upon invitation to the game, that she was aware those surrounding her would be people with many different views and beliefs. The comedian sarcastically joked that the reference wasn’t about politics, but the fact that she was a secret Packers fan. Her humor, lighthearted manner and poise in addressing the situation was no surprise. In fact, it takes a great amount of strength to be that composed under immense scruinity.
While people were voicing their frustrations on Twitter, Degeneres also decided to present a light hearted post from @Mathew_Oooo that stated, “…Ellen and George Bush together makes me have faith in America again,” which was also included in her Twitter video clip.
On the other hand, People referenced a tweet that stated, “So quirky and fun to see George Bush out with Ellen at a Cowboys game after his terrible foreign policy decisions killed thousands of innocent people.” Like any political figure, Bush’s past leaves many American citizens troubled. In this case, it seems these citizens are not ready to let past mistakes go. What Bush’s opponents don’t comprehend is, while Degeneres accepts Bush as a friend, it does not mean Degeneres is succumbing to Bush or allowing her values to be diminished. I would consider this to be her taking the high road.
After all was said and done, according to Fox News and Degeneres’ Twitter clip, she stated, “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.” DeGeneres continued, “We’re all different and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s okay that we’re all different…but just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them.”
Degeneres also received support from British singer Elton John as he spoke out on the ordeal. According to Fox News, John told NPR on Monday, “Unfortunately, what our democracy has become now is that it’s not okay to have different opinions than yours and that is not healthy,”
The singer further stated Bush, himself and Degeneres have all made mistakes. While they were bad decisions the former president made, it was made by Democratic and Republican presidents too. John and Bush both admired Degeneres for standing up and saying what she did.
Degeneres received The Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016 according to NBC News, which is the nation’s highest civil honor. The White House statement said, “In her work and in her life, she has been a passionate advocate for equality and fairness.” This is where Degeneres’ fellow Americans get stuck. A citizen of such high stature, standing for equality by befriending Bush, who has represented the opposite of this at times, is rattling for Degeneres’ followers. It may be easy to consider her weak and contradictory in doing so, but if she opted out of this friendship or simply chose to change seats, she would be going against her own character.
With fairness, as Degeneres stands for, comes the freedom to speak your mind and be entitled to your own opinion. If she can’t stand to tolerate that, then the hopes for peace can dwindle. The only way to have peace in a world of disagreements, is agree to disagree peacefully. While this situation is a small instance on a Sunday enjoying America’s favorite pastime, it can be a model for larger situations worldwide.
Degeneres closed her statement provided by Fox News and Twitter stating, “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.” With that, kindness can help make seeing eye to eye in this divided world a little more clear.
Her powerfully moving statement as a whole relates to all audiences. Opinions may be different, but we are all the same; we are all humans. While we may reject certain opinions, as it is our right to do so, we don’t always need to reject the person who holds it.