Elton John sided with Ellen DeGeneres on making friends with people who don’t share your politics. Elton told NPR he admired her stance after she was called out for being chummy with former President George W. Bush. In fact, he went even further and found something positive to say about President Trump:
“I admire Ellen for standing up and saying what she said,” said John, in response to recent criticisms of Ellen DeGeneres, who sat with former president George Bush at a football game and later commented that she has friend who don’t necessarily share the same beliefs as she has.
“George Bush has made a lot of mistakes. I made a lot of mistakes. Ellen DeGeneres has made a lot of mistakes,” said John. “People need to come together […] They need to respect people’s view on life. Except when it’s heresy, and I don’t think George Bush is that kind of guy.”
And while he shied away from diving too deeply into his opinions on American politics (claiming that England has enough problems of its own at the moment), he noted that President Trump has kept PEPFAR — the President George W. Bush-era emergency plan for AIDS relief — “so that’s a good thing.”
In case you missed the backstory, last week people on the left freaked out over the shocking news that Ellen DeGeneres sat next to former President George W. Bush at a football game. After being condemned for looking to chummy with the ex-president, DeGeneres responded on her show with a plea for civility.
“We’re all different and I think that we’ve forgotten that that’s okay that we’re all different… but 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. She added, “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. Doesn’t matter.”
From what I saw online, there was a mostly positive response from right and left, though of course there were exceptions among far-left actors:
“But missing the point entirely, DeGeneres framed the issue as simply a matter of her hanging out with someone with different opinions, not a man repeatedly accused of being a war criminal.” https://t.co/OCyYEfNRQl
— Susan Sarandon (@SusanSarandon) October 8, 2019
Sorry, until George W. Bush is brought to justice for the crimes of the Iraq War, (including American-lead torture, Iraqi deaths & displacement, and the deep scars—emotional & otherwise—inflicted on our military that served his folly), we can’t even begin to talk about kindness. https://t.co/dpMwfck6su
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) October 9, 2019
Vox noted there were also quite a few rebuttals of Ellen from progressive news sites:
“Being nice to Bush means in turn disrespecting those whose lives were destroyed by his disastrous administration,” wrote Naomi LaChance at Splinter News. “You literally cannot be kind to everyone. You have to choose a side! Ellen certainly has.”
“DeGeneres betrays her political significance as an openly gay entertainer and a prominent LGBTQ advocate through her friendship with Bush,” wrote Justin Charity at the Ringer.
“When one person has historically believed other people should not have the same basic rights as another, it’s hard to treat these differences as benign—especially when that person once exercised their power to help make their beliefs a reality,” wrote Laura Bradley at Vanity Fair.
Naturally, Vox concludes Ellen might be wrong:
The debate over Ellen’s niceness as an entertainer and celebrity is a close cousin to the “civility” debate that periodically roils the political world: the question of whether it is politically more effective for the left to “be civil” to members of the Trump administration, or whether publicly confronting some of those members — like Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who was denied service at a restaurant in an act of political protest in 2018 — might perhaps be the morally correct and politically viable way to go.
And while calls for civility remain prevalent, it’s no longer considered inarguably correct that civility always wins.
Personally, I think civility is usually the best course and I don’t think we should decide people can’t be our friends because they have different political views. That said, there are definitely moments when it’s tempting to put together a long string of four-letter words and let someone have it. But it’s best to resist that urge.
As for Elton John, I suspect he’ll get some backlash for this but what does he care. He’s 72, he’s very rich, world-famous, and his music still plays on the radio every day around the world. There’s not much the woke scolds can do to him at this point.