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Friendship should not be extended to human rights abusers

Ellen DeGeneres rightfully received backlash on social media Sunday when cameras showed her laughing next to former President George Bush during a Dallas Cowboys game. 

Video clips of DeGeneres sitting next to Bush during the game circulated on Twitter Sunday and was met with a mix of responses. Some users were confused at the unlike pairing. While others thought it was hypocritical for DeGeneres to be laughing with a president who left the country in a mess.  

I wasn’t too happy to see DeGeneres giggling alongside a war criminal, but I didn’t want to jump on DeGeneres’ throat without hearing what she had to say. I couldn’t think of what she could honestly say to help herself out of this situation, but there are two sides to a story, right

I shouldn’t have wasted my time because her explanation wasn’t good enough. 

In a video clip released Monday night ahead of her Tuesday show broadcast, DeGeneres explains that Charlotte Jones, the daughter of Cowboys’ owner Jerry Jones, invited her and her wife Portia de Rossi to the game. 

DeGeneres and her wife were seated in the Jones’ box. DeGeneres’ seat next to Bush was happenstance. 

I can’t fault her for sitting since her seating arrangement was an accident, but her explanation for the video clip of her and Bush put her in a deeper hole. 

“Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them,” DeGeneres said in her explanatory monologue on Tuesday’s episode of “Ellen.” “When I say be kind to one another, I don’t mean only the people that think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone.”

I don’t know if she is fully grasping the situation but being friends with Bush is more than just being kind to everyone. This isn’t a trivial case where someone doesn’t like a movie someone else likes. It’s more than that. 

As a woman who came out in 1997 and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama in 2017, I would think she would at least see why people were upset that she was chuckling with a person who opposed gay marriage and endorsed an amendment that would ban it. 

My issue with this situation isn’t that DeGeneres is liberal, and Bush is conservative. You can be friends with people who have different political viewpoints, but when a person doesn’t have regard for human life, I don’t think kindness is an option. 

This isn’t third grade. Being kind to people who oppose fundamental human rights is not the answer. 

Plamedie Ifasso can be reached via email at

Featured image by Angelica Monsour


  1. Brittany Brittany October 22, 2019

    She is literally being unfairly criticized for sitting next to another person. I think everyone is making a big deal out of nothing. Just because Bush promoted some huge controversial issues does not mean he does not deserve to get along with other people or not have friends. Maybe he just needs to learn. Also, she is just trying to do the mature thing. At the end of the day, she is probably trying to keep a good image for the media by being the bigger person. No one truly knows Bush’s regard for human rights. In reality, we only know what social media tells us, but we will never know the true thoughts and intentions of people we have never met.

  2. Annonymous Annonymous October 22, 2019

    “This isn’t third grade. Being kind to people who oppose fundamental human rights is not the answer.” I would agree this is not third grade; however, being unnecessarily rude to people is not the answer either if that is what is being suggested.

  3. MamaT MamaT October 22, 2019

    Ellen is completely correct in saying we should be kind to people who don’t hold the same opinions as we do. It’s not a “third grade” sentiment, it’s being a fellow human. We all have rights to our own opinions. I disagree with yours but I am not going to be rude to you. And what if Bush had treated her rudely the way you are implying Ellen should have treated Bush? You most likely would have berated him. Sort of a double standard, don’t you think? I’m sure neither one of them would have made the choice to be in the same box and sitting next to each other, but well, as it so happened, they did. And they both made the most of it. Very mature and worthy of imitation, if you ask me. And what about just being respectful of the office of president and all who hold it or have in the past? Regardless of your opinion on where they stand or stood on issues, they held the highest office in our land and deserve respect. Maybe your third grade idea of kindness needs to grow up into respect…respect of others, no matter their ideas or opinions. We are a land where people have intellectual freedoms, thanks to the First Amendment. Sadly, it’s opinions like yours that are putting it in jeopardy.

    • Anonymous Anonymous October 22, 2019

      Best comment of the day. Completely agree

  4. Victoria Cotroneo Victoria Cotroneo October 22, 2019

    You want to call George Bush A war criminal so what would you call every other president who went to war and sent people to kill? also war criminals? If we go by your standards then Hilary is also a war criminal for getting our own troops killed. You can’t say George Bush is A war criminal because guess what at the end of the day we went to war to fight for our freedom and against the people who attacked us on 9/11. there are bunch of countries who have wanted us to be there and support them because their governments are overtaking their rights and their freedom. As a veteran who served in the US military I can tell you right now that we are not sent over there to kill people. We are there to keep the peace. Ellen sitting next to Bush should be supported because at the end of they day, kindness is spread by being kind to others. What you wrote was not kind.

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