It was certainly an inappropriate remark made by Roseanne Barr (shown) via Twitter: “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby = vj.” Barr was responding to a tweet about Valerie Jarrett, a former key aide to President Barack Obama.
Since Jarrett is an African-American woman, the tweet was immediately characterized as “racist,” and ABC quickly canceled its situation comedy Roseanne on Tuesday. The swift reaction by ABC was somewhat surprising, considering that Barr issued an apology to Jarrett and “all Americans,” and that the show was the surprise “hit” of the season.
In the show, Barr’s character is a huge supporter of President Donald Trump, whom she voted for in real life.
Jarrett responded to Barr’s tweets Wednesday on (naturally) MSNBC, without commenting on Barr’s apology: “I’m fine. I’m worried about all the people out there who don’t have a circle of friends and followers who come right to their defense.”
Jarrett added, “We have to turn it into a teaching moment.”
Exactly what Jarrett believes is “a teaching moment” about Barr’s tweet is not clear, but one lesson that can certainly be drawn from the episode is that the liberal-dominated culture views certain hateful “jokes” differently, depending on whether a liberal or a conservative is the one being ridiculed. Barr’s “joke” was taken as “racist,” and one can certainly take offense to it.
But the left-wing culture that dominates television and the media are very selective in their outrage concerning so-called jokes. Stephen Colbert has turned his late-night television program into a nightly vicious verbal assault upon the president of the United States, and no joke about Trump is seen as too far or too disrespectful on his show or on other such programs.
Examples of the liberal double-standard are ubiquitous. It was about a year ago when the “comedian” Kathy Griffin thought it would be a real laugher to post a photograph of herself holding up what was supposed to be a bloody representation of Donald Trump’s severed head.
At the time, Griffin faced so much backlash, even from some liberals, that she offered a public apology, saying, “I am sorry. I went too far. I was wrong.” What should be noted here is that an apology saved her career, but Barr’s apology did not salvage her popular TV sit-com. Apparently, certain actions constitute the unforgivable sin to the American Left, and others — such as making a “joke” out of the representation of a severed head of the president of the United States — do not.
Griffin has even retracted her apology, telling The View, “I take the apology back.… This president is different.” When asked if she still felt she went too far in displaying a bloody severed head of Trump, Griffin said, “No, not now, not when I see his policies.”
Griffin was asked by View co-host Joy Behar (who apologized recently for her own comments that Christians who believe Jesus talks to them are suffering from a mental illness) why she would risk another backlash. Griffin responded, “It’s important. The First Amendment is the first amendment for a reason.”
Besides the fact that the First Amendment is a only a restriction upon the government’s censorship of speech, and has nothing to do with private consequences (such as Barr losing her TV show), there is nothing particularly courageous about Griffin’s retraction. The media will not make a big deal out of her retraction. She will not lose a job over it.
Then there was the episode when former late-night TV host David Letterman made a “joke” that Sarah Palin’s daughter got “knocked up by [New York Yankees baseball player] Alex Rodriguez.” Letterman seemed to have a practice of finding something funny about rape — he once made a “joke” that Scooter Libby, an aide to then-Vice President Dick Cheney, would soon be getting raped in prison.
The Letterman “joke” concerning Palin’s daughter originated with a family trip to New York in 2009, which included attendance at a Yankees baseball game. In his monologue, Letterman said “there was one awkward moment during the seventh-inning stretch” when Palin’s daughter “was knocked up by Alex Rodriguez.” Rodriguez had been in the news for his private sexual activities, and Palin’s 18-year-old unmarried daughter, Bristol, had just given birth to a son.
Letterman’s “joke,” as distasteful as it was, was made worse when it was revealed that the only daughter present at Yankee stadium was Willow, then just 14 years old. At first, Letterman was unapologetic at the outrage that followed, saying, “We were, as we often do, making jokes about people in the news.”
Eventually, however, Letterman did issue an apology: “I told a bad joke.… It’s not your fault that it was misunderstood [he did not know that it was Willow, not Bristol, who was at the game] — it’s my fault. So, I would like to apologize, especially to the two daughters involved, Bristol and Willow, and also to the governor and her family.” Letterman’s late-night career then continued on for several more years.
The reaction of the media is what is even more interesting. For example, Randy Cohen of the New York Times argued that no apology by Letterman was even warranted, and certainly Letterman’s continuation on CBS should not have been an issue. In fact, he considered Bristol Palin as “fair game,” because she “chose to be a public figure.”
Even racially-charged remarks are forgivable, if made in promotion of the liberal cause. Harry Belafonte once likened Colin Powell, who served under three Republican presidents, to a house slave. Spike Lee called Clarence Thomas a “chicken-and-biscuit-eating Uncle Tom.”
The late Senator Robert Byrd, a Democrat from West Virginia, was forgiven for his remarks from his leadership days in the Ku Klux Klan, in which he said, “Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimens from the wilds.” After all, Byrd was a reliable vote for liberal causes in the Senate.
And it is not just anti-black racism that is acceptable if done in pursuit of left-wing goals. Hillary Clinton once reportedly called one of Bill Clinton’s aides a “f*cking Jew bastard.” Fellow Democrat Jesse Jackson described New York City as “Hymietown” during the 1984 presidential campaign. And Al Sharpton is regarded as a source of wisdom on liberal cable news even today, but he once said, “White folks was in caves while we was building empires.... We taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it.”
Nevertheless, Roseanne Barr’s comments, as distasteful as they were, are considered unforgivable largely because she is (somewhat) pro-Trump. Perhaps if she were a supporter of Hillary Clinton, or if she had carried around a severed “head” of President Trump, she would still be on the air. She might have even won an Emmy award.
Photo: AP Images