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Nicolais: Denigrating Ellen DeGeneres isn’t just wrong, it’s harmful

The far-left outcry against DeGeneres over her friendship with former President George W. Bush demonstrates an ideology that would undermine political progress

Sometimes I wonder if members of the far-left stand in front of mirrors screaming at themselves. Not for practice mind you, but because they feel an unquellable urge to berate anything and anyone.

That particular question rose front and center this week after a picture of Ellen DeGeneres and former President George W. Bush laughing together at a Dallas Cowboys’ game created a faux furor among the farthest left social media.

Mario Nicolais

Twitter and Instagram accounts tripped over one another trying to condemn DeGeneres in the most gratuitous manner. You couldn’t have been faulted for believing DeGeneres had just found herself trapped in the “Nosedive” episode of the darkly satirical Black Mirror television series.

For a moment, I thought we were approaching a point when DeGeneres would be unmasked as the true source for the weapons of mass destruction intelligence that provided Bush with a basis for the war against Iraq.

It probably didn’t help that the most highly attuned social media accounts belong to real world and online celebrities carefully curating their follower base, seizing on any issue to increase their status through an ever-growing number of “likes.” 

Calling out DeGeneres’ “betrayal” became a cause célèbre, which in turn fueled stories in more traditional media. All because DeGeneres gets along with a conservative former president. Maybe they forgot about another famous female liberal icon who shared a similar fondness for the congenial Bush: Michelle Obama.

But that is the ridiculousness of the far left. They demand fealty to a philosophy based on uncompromising hatred of alternative political ideologies. Any compromise – even on a personal if not political level – must be met with public shaming and ostracism.

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They certainly aren’t alone in this approach as the right has its demons, too. But the left is currently the loudest. And the most hypocritical.

As former Colorado Republican Rep. Rob Fairbank joked on his Facebook page, “I will wager 100% of the people complaining about Ellen sitting with George W. Bush in Jerry Jones’ suite have a ‘Celebrate Diversity’ or ‘Coexist’ bumper sticker on their hybrid.”

If he lowered it to 98%, I might take that bet.

The real harm caused is to actual public policy that affects everyday lives. The day after the DeGeneres debacle, I found myself, an avowed conservative, at the foot of the state Capitol arguing vehemently against discrimination in the workplace with One Colorado, the state’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group.

If One Colorado followed the same formula as DeGeneres’ detractors, I wouldn’t have been on that stage. Instead, they have become one of the most successful organizations in the state precisely by finding common ground. For example, civil unions became a reality in Colorado only after B.J. Nickel, a Republican member of the state House, voted the bill out of a “kill committee.”

Trust me, I was there.

While it took another year to pass civil unions, One Colorado has continued its success on a range of issues, from banning conversion therapy to changing the process for transgender individuals to change their birth certificates, almost always with the help of Republicans. 

I guarantee none of that would have been possible if it weren’t for the personal friendships forged between liberals and conservatives.

Maybe the most damning consequence of the far-left outrage machine is the environment they helped create and which laid the framework for President Donald Trump. By demonizing Bush for so many years, the far-left made many Americans comfortably numb to a president immune from social niceties.

The harshest personal attacks against Bush, from his intelligence to his demeanor, produced the mud Trump loves to wallow in. It’s no wonder conservatives and many moderates ignore an entire segment of Chicken Littles who have proclaimed the sky falling for almost two decades.

While the DeGeneres outcry will die out over the next few days or weeks, we should recognize the growing threat it epitomized. If we cannot befriend those with whom we disagree, it’s possible we will find no friends in the not-so-distant future. 

Mario Nicolais is an attorney and columnist who writes on law enforcement, the legal system, healthcare, and public policy. Follow him on Twitter: @MarioNicolaiEsq

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