With one perfectly idiotic, racist tweet---a single stupid sentence---primetime diva, Roseanne Barr, not only muddied the water of race relations but, in the process, brought her own show and, perhaps, her career to a screeching halt.
Barr tweeted, “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj.” VJ is Valerie Jarrett, friend, confidant and one-time advisor to President Obama. In equating an accomplished black woman with an ape---one of the most historically tasteless slurs you can direct to a black person---Barr showed herself to be thoughtless and racist; a dubious daily double. Of course, her latest distasteful comment is just another link in a chain of hate filled ‘Roseanneisms.’
The tweet was removed an hour later; an apology followed. But tweets, like lies, can travel around the world before the truth can put on its boots. Once again, Barr had crossed the line of civility, but not without company. With more and more regularity, Barr’s comments are not the stupidest, only the latest.
Barr’s brand of racism has been documented for a decade. She has promoted Pizzagate---a bizarre theory linking Hillary Clinton to pedophilia. She has called 9/11 an inside job, labeled Israel a Nazi state, tweeted a theory about Jewish mind control and the beat goes on.
Like so many others now emboldened and enamored with this subterranean tack, she and so many others like her may be taking cues from on high.
Donald Trump has repeatedly told his audiences that Barr is “one of us.” This tacit ‘wink-and-nod’ is sadly gaining currency but still remains a long way from normalcy. But both blatant and dog whistle comments from the Oval Office seem to give aid and comfort to a growing number of those peddling xenophobia.
In the 1980’s, as he was building his brand, Trump bought a full page ad in the New York Times calling for the death penalty for five young black and Latino men accused of rape. They were later exonerated but only after serving years in prison. Fast forward to the 21st century and only minutes into announcing his candidacy, he labeled Mexicans as “rapists.” He was just getting started.
A small but random list of his racially tinged comments show either a disturbing pattern of ignorance or strategically timed racism. He openly attacked a Mexican American judge---a son of Indiana---hinting at an innate bias because of his lineage; He called for “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States;” Said Haitians “all have AIDS,” and called for less immigration from there; Captured his base by early and often accusing President Obama of being born in Kenya and not Hawaii in order to delegitimize his presidency.
This abridged record of Trump’s verbal transgressions does not include comments aimed at Asians, Native Americans, Jewish Americans, the disabled and women of color. There is also the famous “Access Hollywood” tape in which he bragged about sexually assaulting women. Trump has also called NFL players who refused to stand for the National Anthem “SOB’s” and suggested that they leave the country.
Juxtaposed with his poorly timed but very public litany of racial assaults is his head-scratching pass on Nazis, skinheads and white supremacists who marched on Charlottesville, calling them “very fine people.”
So far, Trump has not addressed Barr’s thoroughly offensive comment aimed at Jarrett. Instead he has aimed his Twitter sights on the president of the network that broadcast her show complaining that he is still awaiting an apology for “HORRIBLE statements made and said about me on ABC.”
Roseanne Barr may have muddied the waters---and paid the price---for her ignorance. But, she might not have been so bold to stir things up had she not been handed the stick to do so by the President. A ‘wink and nod’ from the Oval Office is just enough to build up early morning Tweet muscles.