By Andrew Klavan
Television host Samantha Bee at a Turner Broadcasting event in New York City, May 16. Photo: Evan Agostini/Associated Press
The lesson of the Roseanne Barr-Samantha Bee double standard.
Roseanne Barr and Samantha Bee seldom have anything interesting to say. But their recent controversies explain our political situation. Taken as one, the story has the precision of a parable.
Ms. Barr, a Trump supporter—in one of her many thoughtlessly grotesque moments—tweets a vulgar remark about longtime Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. People reasonably interpret it as racist. Within hours, Ms. Barr’s No. 1 television program is canceled. Even reruns of her decades-old show are taken off the air.
Ms. Bee, a leftist who hates Mr. Trump—in one of her many well-scripted and vetted grotesque moments—makes an obscene remark about Ivanka Trump. That it is misogynistic is beyond dispute. The audience cheers. Her producer brags that the obscenity is trending on social media.
After a day of outrage from the right, Ms. Bee issues a halfhearted apology.
She receives an award. Her unpopular and unprofitable show stays on the air. Influential cultural voices earnestly debate whether her ugly comment was really all that bad. The conversation trails into silence.
Even the clearest parable can be misunderstood, so let’s explain this one. There are, generally speaking, two political factions in the U.S. One, the right, believes that America is a great nation and wants to preserve and continue its experiment in ordered liberty, limited government and free-market capitalism. The other, the left, believes America is racist and oppressive and yearns for some form of socialism.
The left has dominated cultural institutions—show business, journalism and higher education—for decades and has used that domination to convince itself and others that conservatives aren’t simply wrong but bigoted and vicious.
Because they believe this—and in service to making others believe it—they interpret virtually any remark by a conservative as bigotry and viciousness, whereas even the most bigoted and vicious remarks by leftists are forgiven, forgotten or overlooked.
This leftist project has been so successful that it has created a kind of cultural cringe on the right. We censor our language, we cull our jokes, we debase ourselves after the slightest misstep.
Even those politicians who were elected to promote our policies have often apologized for them, offering “kinder, gentler” or “compassionate” conservatism—as if the principles of governance that make us free and prosperous were heartless and brutal.
It becomes clear why those of us who believe in freedom would select a leader who will not apologize for anything—a product of vulgar leftist culture who will fight back on the left’s own terms and will institute conservative policies and ignore the opposition’s shopworn insults—“racist,” “sexist” and all the rest.
That leader may not be nice, or even good. But as the Barr-Bee situation shows, the cultural left has made it impossible to speak for conservatism without being simultaneously condemned as indecent and assaulted by indecency. It takes an indifference to decency to stand up against the opprobrium and do the right thing.
Do leftists dislike being held to the cultural rules they created? As a polite and decent man who believes that America is the least racist and oppressive country on the planet, that socialism is a moral atrocity and that ordered liberty is a gift from a gracious God, I find it hard to feel their pain over getting Trumped.
Mr. Klavan hosts “The Andrew Klavan Show” at DailyWire.com.