For quite some time now, we have had at our disposal a self-replenishing arsenal of virally irresistible media about Donald Trump. Each morning, I take a breath and brace myself for whatever unfiltered epiphany he may crow from the roof of Trump Tower, whatever bloviated edict of his might grab the world.
I cringe as he insults minorities and the poor, and every day I sit, astonished, as more of us support him. We’ve seen him as a salesman, a television personality, and now as the presidential candidate for the Republican party.
Man, we’ve seen a lot.
And I’ve found myself guilty of slinging the mud that that’s been spread all around – on the Internet, at the grocery store, by the water cooler…
Suffice it to say I’m not a fan.
There, I said it. I’m not crazy about Trump. And I continue to believe, as most of us do, that it’s my God-given right to disseminate that opinion every chance I get.
Enter Leslie Jones – forty-eight-year-old writer and Saturday Night Live actress from Memphis, who, after starring in the long-anticipated reboot of Ghostbusters, alongside fellow comic actresses Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, and Kate McKinnon, has been insulted, humiliated, and even hacked, because some viewers weren’t pleased with her performance in that movie.
Though her performance may not have been deemed Oscar-worthy, I found absolutely no justification for the widespread slaughter of her features, size, race, voice, hair, or any aspect of her personal life. In fact, I was a little gobsmacked that anyone felt so negatively about her performance in the first place. She seemed just fine to me.
Stars like Ellen DeGeneres, Katy Perry, and Janelle Monáe have spoken out in her support, using the very active Twitter hashtag, #IStandWithLeslie. I continue to support her in this way. And I still have trouble wrapping my mind around the fact that people actually hate the woman.
.@Lesdoggg you are beautiful & talented & bring laughter into a world that desperately needs it. You are also my friend & I support you.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) August 25, 2016
Now, let’s get back to Trump. We are very verbal about our distaste of his skin tone, his hair, the way he purses his lips. We mock his accent, the cadence of his voice, his mannerisms, and his ties. There’s little about this man we seem to accept.
As I was about to share an entertaining Trump meme on Facebook the other day, I had a bit of a revelation: Why is it okay for me to hate Trump but not okay to hate Leslie? Why are we running to Leslie’s aid, while simultaneously pitching stones at Trump? Why is it okay to attack one, but not the other?
Do we bash Trump because we think he can take it? Because I can see, by the way he bites back at his opponents, that he probably can’t. Do we bash Trump because he’s stronger or taller or better than we are? Because, by his track record in both his personal and professional lives, he doesn’t seem to have a leg up on anyone.
Why do we refuse to see this flawed human being as flawed, then proceed to dehumanize him for our enjoyment? Because he’s outspoken?
Conversely, why do we run to defend someone whose life is just as public, who may have made similar mistakes? Is it because she’s a woman? Because she’s African American? Because she’s less disruptive?
Victor Hugo once said that strong and bitter words indicate a weak cause. Lest we forget.
What would happen if we stopped goading Trump? What would happen if we refused to meet his hostility with rage? What would happen if we stopped attacking him with spite, and attacked peacefully on Election Day instead?
What would happen if we acknowledged his humanity while refusing to compromise our own?
And what if we did that all the time – with the Kims and the Kanyes, the Arnolds and the Hillarys? The Chris Browns and the Justin Beibers who never seem to behave to our exacting standards? What would happen if kindness, instead of our misguided emotions, ruled our actions?
What if we helped people up when they were down? Further, what if we didn’t beat them down there in the first place?
What would happen if we simply said to our friends – “Hey, I just saw the new Ghostbusters. I wasn’t a huge fan of Leslie Jones’ performance.” – instead of outright trying to ruin her life?
What if we realized we had the power to stop all this hatred ourselves?