What Donald Trump Could Teach Ellen DeGeneres About Diversity and Tolerance
Ellen said we should accept people we disagree with. So why does she refuse to have President Trump on her show?
OK. I admit it. The title of this article is meant to be catchy. But there’s an important truth I want to convey, which is simply this: tolerance and diversity are two-way streets.
While appearing on The Ellen Show, the Today Show’s Matt Lauer turned the tables and began to interview his host, asking her about her coming out as a lesbian, since this is the 20th anniversary.
He then asked her if she would have President Trump on her show, to which she replied, “No.”
Ellen explained, “Because I’m not going to change his mind. He’s against everything I stand for. We need to look at someone else who looks different than us, and believes in something that we don’t believe in and still accept them and still let them have their rights.”
And for that reason Ellen won’t have him on her show? Look at her reasoning again. She won’t have him on her program because “we need to look at someone else who looks different than us, and believes in something that we don’t believe in and still accept them and still let them have their rights.”
So, Ellen is refusing to sit across from someone who looks different than her and believes in something that she doesn’t believe because we need to be able to sit with those very people? Am I the only one who sees a glaring contradiction here?
Acceptance Through Nonacceptance?
Let’s parse Ellen’s words carefully, not to attack her but rather to probe how tolerant and inclusive our friends on the left really are.
First, she says, “I’m not going to change his mind.”
But is that the criterion for being a guest on her show? That you either agree with her or else must be willing to have your mind changed? How about healthy interaction with those with whom you differ? Isn’t that an important part of tolerance and diversity?
I recently took exception to an article written on the Huffington Post by a humanist journalist. So I wrote an article in response, after which I invited him to join me on my radio show. He joined me earlier this week, and we had a delightful one-hour discussion in the midst of our disagreements. How can discussions like this hurt? What if Ellen, who is obviously a master host, had a civil discussion with the president? Couldn’t we all benefit from that?
Second, Ellen said, “He’s against everything I stand for.”
Perhaps that’s true on several issues. But the president has hardly been an aggressive opponent of LGBT activism. He’s been strong on pro-life issues and has appointed men to his administration like Dr. Ben Carson and Jeff Sessions, both of whom oppose LGBT activism. But Trump has sought to present himself as a friend of the LGBT community, and it appears that Ivanka and Jared Kushner certainly push him in that direction.
I hoped that Trump would take a more conservative stand when it comes to LGBT activism. But it’s hard to understand how Trump is “against everything” Ellen stands for. If they spoke face to face before Ellen’s massive audience, maybe a few areas of agreement would emerge?
Third, how I can tell you that we should be able to sit and talk with those we differ with, only to turn around and say, “I won’t sit and talk with you because we differ”? (I once had a company refuse to work with me because they were “inclusive.” Come again?)
Fourth, Ellen says that when it comes to people who are different than us, we must “still accept them and still let them have their rights.”
Is this, then, Ellen’s way of accepting Trump, by saying she would not have him on her show? (I’m sure this is of no concern to the president, who hardly needs to find a way to get more TV exposure. I’m simply addressing the issue.)
Whose Rights Does Ellen Affirm?
When it comes to people having “rights,” we could obviously debate many aspects of LGBT rights. For example, does a biological male who identifies as a female have the “right” to use the ladies’ bathroom? But right now, President Trump is not campaigning to overturn the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex “marriage” (again, I would be glad if he did), so I’m still not sure whose “rights” he is opposing.
It would be odd if Ellen wasn’t thinking about LGBT issues at all in her statement, given the immediate context of the interview. The context was her coming out as a lesbian, then asking if she’d have Trump on her show. Perhaps she has caricatured the president even beyond his own caricatured personality?
And when it comes to rights, is Ellen willing to affirm the right of a photographer not to be forced to shoot a same-sex wedding ceremony because of deeply held, sacred beliefs? Do Christian conservatives and other people of faith have rights too?
A Good Host — But a Bad Move
This is the kind of discussion that I think Ellen really should have on her show. Why further demonize each other? And as bombastic and combative as Trump can be, he also seems to like sitting face to face with those who differ with him. After all, isn’t that a part of negotiating and deal-making?
There are many reasons why Ellen DeGeneres is so loved by so many Americans. She must have many fine qualities as a human being created in the image of God. The fact that she is so dismissive of the president of the United States that should we not welcome him on her show is a point against her, not for her.