American TV host Ellen DeGeneres ruffled feathers after she defended her friendship with former US President George W Bush on her popular talk show.
“Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them,” she told the audience, including over 28 million viewers on Instagram and Twitter combined, reported InStyle.
“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,” she said. DeGeneres’ stance earned the praise of many, including fellow celebrities like Reese Witherspoon, Kendall Jenner, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Orlando Bloom and Lenny Kravitz.
However, many social media users slammed the comedian’s willingness to overlook Bush’s history. This includes his decision to march the country into war in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, which resulted in the deaths of 250,000 civilians, according to a study by Brown University. He has also been accused of war crimes in the past.
People took to Twitter to express their displeasure. One user wrote, “This is a bad take and you should re-examine it. Sometimes you have to be kind by protecting other people and holding the powerful, especially powerful criminals, to account. GWB is a war criminal. Treating him normally normalizes war crimes.”
Another responded to Pirates of the Caribbean star Orlando Bloom’s tweet. “Kill ’em with kindness”, the star published on his page in support of DeGeneres’ friendship with Bush.
“Ellen killed people with kindness, Bush killed people with torture and bombs. Friends ‘til the end,” the user retorted. “I can’t get over this. Celebs are insane,” another said after the onslaught of Hollywood celebrity support for the duo.
Some went as far as to categorise the social media division as more of a class conflict than a partisan issue. “Privilege is Ellen DeGeneres explaining her friendship with George Bush by saying ‘Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean I’m not gonna be friends with them’, as if what they disagree about is who was best dressed at the Emmy’s or what the best mayo is,” one user wrote.
“If George Bush killed a million white women, I don’t think Ellen would be talking about her friend George Bush. But since it’s a million dead Iraqis and Afghans, no big deal,” another retorted.
British-Asian actor Jameela Jamil was one of the few celebrities to publicly take the opposition, tweeting that she’s “learning today about the full extent of Bush’s heinous presidency” and can “now understand the rage.”
This response elicited a backlash of its own, with people tweeting that she should have known earlier, as she was in her twenties when Bush left office. Jamil combated detractors by pointing out that she didn’t grow up in America and she’s taking out time to learn about history now.
Avengers star Mark Ruffalo, too, criticised DeGeneres’ plea for kindness. “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,” he tweeted.
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