Friends in "High" Places
Image courtesy of NBC News.
Last Sunday, I was – like many Americans – watching football. Generally, I prefer sports to be a break from politics. After all, I’m trying to watch a game, not have a debate. Sometimes, though, politics finds its way into sports whether you like it or not.
In the game between the Cowboys and the Packers, Ellen DeGeneres was pictured sitting next to and laughing with former President George W. Bush. This caused a wide range of reactions, varying from some saying “I’m glad they can hang out despite their differences” to others saying “why is a gay liberal hanging out with a conservative,” and everything in between.
Ellen addressed the controversy in her show soon after.
For the most part, I agree with Ellen. To quote Thomas Jefferson, “I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause for withdrawing from a friend.” I have friends ranging across the political and religious spectrums, and not once have I considered ending a friendship because of their beliefs or mine.
George W. Bush isn’t a friend of mine, but his politics wouldn’t stop me from being his friend.
The fact that he’s a war criminal would stop me from being his friend.
I don’t care if you’re a liberal, a conservative, an anarchist, a communist, or anything else. I do care if you launch an aggressive war based on false intelligence which leads to the death of roughly 1 million people and the displacement of an additional 4.5 million people.
I am usually one in favor of civility in politics, despite the fact that civility in politics is rare. I reuse to be civil with war criminals because I do not believe they are deserving of civility. I don’t think we should normalize war crimes and try to rehabilitate the image of war criminals. War criminals are undeserving of a good image.
For some people, though, being a war criminal is no deterrent to friendship. For reasons unbeknownst to me, war criminals are accepted – and even celebrated – in our society.
For example, Bill Clinton committed war crimes in the former Yugoslavia. That doesn’t bother Bill Murray and Bon Jovi, who seem elated to be pictured with a war criminal.
George W. Bush, whose war crimes I identified earlier, is responsible for countless deaths and his disastrous foreign policy literally changed the world forever. Nonetheless, Dr. Phil and Carrie Underwood are happy to pose with this war criminal.
For some reason, the American people – celebrities and non-celebrities alike – are more than willing to forgive war crimes. In fact, you’re seen as uncivil if you don’t accept and respect the war criminals.
I agree with Ellen that we should be friends with people who disagree with us. However, we shouldn’t be friends with war criminals. If you wouldn’t be friends with a murderer, why would you be friends with a mass murderer like Clinton, Bush, or Obama?