I’m a mom – one of the first things I did as a mother was teach my boys about kindness. Its importance to be a good human being. That you respect others.
They weren’t very old when I started to teach them that there were exceptions to kindness. I’m not suggesting that they be cruel to others, but I wanted to make sure that they could recognize that some people do not deserve respect or kindness because of their actions towards others.
Why am I talking about this now? For the home game opener for the Dallas Stars, I watched as George W Bush dropped the puck. He went to the Dallas Cowboys game and watched it with Ellen DeGeneres. I watched them push out video of him meeting the team, with smiling players eagerly shaking his hand. I’ve watched him be kind and buddy buddy with Michelle Obama. I’ve seen him point out his artwork. Why yes, he’s rebranded himself as a sweet retiree.
It’s hard not to remember everything he was responsible for. He took a horrible act of terrorism and used it to justify a never ending war. And manufactured evidence to start a front in a country that had nothing to do with 9/11. He wanted to finish what his father had started. And led to a culture of Islamophobia that has forever harmed Muslim people around the world (and those who are perceived to be Muslim). He sanctioned torture. Ultimately, his war harmed not only the countries that were invaded, but damaged American soldiers who were forced to fight this war. Without the mental health support in the VA, they came home without the necessary safety net.
He stood steadfast against the LGBTQ community when they tried to ask for marriage equality as the first step towards equal legal rights.
Since stepping down as president, he hasn’t done a thing to make amends for the damages he caused. He hasn’t given to charities, started foundations. There haven’t been talks to the UN to talk about his regrets, and call for action. Instead, he has spent recent years painting. And there’s nothing wrong with painting, but when it’s clear he hasn’t done a thing to suggest he’s changed – I’m not going to change my mind about who he is.
When the Powerful Weaponize Kindness
To add insult to injury, when people were upset that he is being humanized by the media, we’re being told by Ellen DeGeneres that kindness is in order. That we should be kind to everyone.
At some point in time, as a minority, you learn that not everyone deserves kindness from you. Those who are less fortunate than you, yes. People going through troubled times, yes. Those who think less of you? No. Those who don’t think you deserve the same rights they have? No.
Be kind, they tell women who want to exist without fear. Black people, Hispanic people, Asian American, and indigenous people are told the same thing when they try to speak up about injustices against them. Be kind, they tell LGBTQ people who speak out against violence, who ask for legal protections. You hear the real meaning. They want you to be quiet. Because their definition of kindness keeps the status quo.
What to do?
And it’s sad. I love Cinderella as a story. It’s about not letting others beat the kindness out of you. About maintaining that kind heart in the face of hate. But I realize, the more I deal with activism and bullies – that they expect kindness to mean that you’re a doormat.
So I teach my children to remember how to be kind. That love and respect are important – but there is a difference between being kind and letting someone walk over me in the name of keeping the status quo. To lend a hand to someone who needs a help up, but don’t keep giving chances to people with power who have done nothing to change or grow.
Sorry Ellen. I won’t be kind to a man who has done nothing to show he understands everything that he did in the Oval Office. I won’t smile and watch him erase the truth of what he did.
Diverse POV vs Ignoring Hate
It’s upsetting that Ellen backs up her actions by saying that she isn’t afraid to have friends with different beliefs.
I have a diverse group of friends. I have friends who like different types of books, different movies, different music. We come from different parts of the world, have different ethnic backgrounds, have different religious beliefs. Some of us have very different diets. We all feel strongly about one thing – all people deserve to exist without discrimination or exploitation. We don’t surround ourselves with people who feel like wars are justified to make oil companies happy, that LGBTQ people don’t deserve the same rights that straight people have, that Muslim people are threats simply for believing in Islam.
What she’s suggesting? Those aren’t simply different points of view. That’s hate. And people who hate like that aren’t friends at all.
I’m sure there’s someone who’s reading this and waiting to suggest that I’m doing the same thing as those I’m railing against. I respect anyone who stands up for someone’s right to exist and be afforded rights as a human. I do not respect those who think that any person is lesser, solely based on their ethnicity, gender, sexuality, gender identity, or economic class. Who you are as a person is measured by what you do and how you treat others.
And if you don’t think that I deserve to have equal footing? I don’t need to bestow kindness on you.