Ellen DeGeneres’ decision to defend friendship with Bush is questionable

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Farah Javed

Comedian and television show host Ellen DeGeneres can do no wrong, right? Rising to stardom in the 1990s with her comedy specials and her NBC talk show, The Ellen Show, America instantly fell in love with her. 

Known for giving gifts and changing the lives of audience members, DeGeneres has become synonymous with kindness. Her recent attendance of a Dallas Cowboys football game, however, begs the question
of how far her kindness really goes.

Numerous photos taken at the game reveal DeGeneres seated next to her wife, Portia de Rossi, and former President George W. Bush and his wife. The two couples laughed and talked throughout the game. 

As these images spread across social media, people were shocked that DeGeneres was sitting with the man who started the war in Iraq, which took thousands of lives. Sixteen years since the war began in 2003, the official death toll is still unknown. 

Bush’s justification was that after 9/11, Iraq was in support of al-Qaeda and was harboring weapons of mass destruction. At the end of the war, it was discovered that both claims were false. 

As people attacked DeGeneres online for supporting a “war criminal,” she addressed the situation during her show’s monologue the next day.

“I’m friends with George Bush,” she said, looking straight into the camera. 

“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… Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean I’m not going to be friends with them.”

She continued by saying,  “When I say ‘be kind to one another,’ I don’t mean only the people who think the same way you do. I mean be kind to everyone, it doesn’t matter.”

DeGeneres, in some people’s eyes, is wrong. It does in fact matter. Though she does say “be kind to one another,” at the end of each episode of her show, not everyone started an eight-year war that tore apart an
innocent country and hurt American soldiers and families as well. 

This perspective is shared by actress Sarah Sarandon, who tweeted, “But missing the point entirely, DeGeneres framed the issue as simply a matter of her hanging out with someone with different opinions, not a man repeatedly accused of being a war criminal.” 

Mark Ruffalo is also among those admonishing DeGeneres’ statements, tweeting, “Sorry, until George W. Bush is brought to justice for the crimes of the Iraq War, (including American-lead torture, Iraqi deaths &
displacement and the deep scars—emotional & otherwise—inflicted on our military that served his folly), we can’t even begin to talk about kindness.” 

DeGeneres’ response reveals how out of touch she is with the situation, making it out to be an issue of empathy, when the reality is rooted far deeper in
an injustice that permanently impacted the world.

Some celebrities have come out in support for DeGeneres, including Elton John, Reese Witherspoon, Kristin Bell, Orlando Bloom and Kendall Jenner.

Elton John tweeted, “I admire Ellen for standing up and saying what she said. George Bush has made a lot of mistakes. I made a lot of mistakes.”

In the whole of this debate, a common theme exists that the elite of Hollywood are praising DeGeneres for spreading love, and not acknowledging Bush’s past or why people would be angry at this friendship.

According to her comments, DeGeneres seems to have dissociated Bush from his violent past. It is interesting that she is able to do this for him, as DeGeneres is known for having a list of celebrities banned from appearing on her show. For instance, she banned Caitlyn Jenner for comments she made that did not support gay marriage. 

For this reason, people believe that it is hypocritical for DeGeneres to forgive a man who caused many civilians’ deaths while also banning celebrities for not sharing her beliefs. 

Moreover, Bush’s campaigns included anti-LGBTQ+ politics, so when DeGeneres says, “Be kind to everyone,” it begs the question of who does “everyone” really include.