Ellen DeGeneres and George W. Bush: A friendship that tested the Internet
It’s hard to imagine that Ellen DeGeneres and George W. Bush would be actual friends. But after pictures showed up online, it almost broke the Internet.
After all, DeGeneres is a well-known icon of the LGBTQ community. Meanwhile, former president Bush has a dismal record on gay rights when he was the Leader of the Free World.
So what happened?
Ellen DeGeneres and George W. Bush during a ballgame
The problem started when DeGeneres and Bush were pictured hanging out with at a Dallas Cowboys football game over the weekend.
The pictures showed the comedian and the former leader talking and laughing while sitting in exclusive suite seats.
DeGeneres later clarified that she had been invited by Jerry Jones, the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, and she didn’t know that Bush would also be there.
When the pictures and clips spread on the Internet, the reaction of some members of the LGBTQ community was swift and harsh, especially for DeGeneres calling Bush a “friend.”
In particular, they slammed DeGeneres for being close to a former president who had stood against the legislation of same-sex marriage, among others.
In 2004, Bush supported a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage.
He also stood against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which pushed federal legislation that prohibited firing someone because of their sexuality or gender identity.
Ellen DeGeneres defends her decision on being kind
In her show, DeGeneres tried to explain her actions even as she refused to apologize for them.
“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,” she said.
“We’re all different. And I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s OK that we’re all different,” she added.
She further emphasized her guiding philosophy: “When I say, ‘Be kind to one another,’ I don’t mean only the people who think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone. Doesn’t matter.”
Check out her video explaining what happened during her show here:
Are Ellen DeGeneres and George W. Bush really “friends?”
However, many publications weren’t accepting of DeGeneres’ reason and noted the problem of being “friends” with someone who has tried to harm the LGBTQ community.
The Advocate said, “When it comes to Bush, we’re not talking about someone who released a book of remorse or went on a press tour where he repeatedly apologized to us (or the Iraqi people).”
Likewise, Out Magazine said: “Ellen DeGeneres laughing it up with someone who has actively tried to harm our community feels disappointing, irresponsible, and dangerous.”
Kate Gardner, writing for The Mary Sue, explained: “Being kind is not incompatible with holding people accountable for their actions.”
Gardner added that DeGeneres would not betray her belief in “being kind by not being kind to a man who has caused so much pain.”
On the other hand, Laura Bradley writing for Variety pointed out that the differences espoused by Bush is problematic.
“But when one person has historically believed other people should not have the same basic rights as another, it’s hard to treat these differences as benign,” Bradley said