On Sunday, Ellen DeGeneres hung out with former President George W. Bush at a Dallas Cowboys game. After facing criticism, she defended her choice to spend time with him, saying on her show, “I'm friends with a lot of people who don't share the same beliefs that I have.”
This goes to show that rich celebrities, even those that proclaim themselves to be liberal, such as DeGeneres does in the video, do not have a sense of solidarity with those they claim to support politically.
On the surface level, being friends with someone with whom you don’t share the same beliefs doesn’t seem like a big deal. DeGeneres uses the example that she doesn’t approve of wearing fur but is friends with a lot of people who do.
This is a disingenuous comparison, though. The problem comes in when the person you are friends with is someone responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths of Iraqi civilians (not to mention those in Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, Libya and even more countries) due to an illegal, imperialist war, that destabilized the entire region. This is not simply a difference of opinion. This is choosing to be friends with a mass murderer whose sole interest was the corporate war machine.
To quote DeGeneres from the same clip from her show, “Why is a gay Hollywood liberal sitting next to a conservative Republican president?” Even without bringing up the Iraq War, Bush’s policies were pretty common for a Republican in the early 2000s.
This means, of course, much of his campaign was notoriously against gay rights, opposing same-sex marriage in 2004. He even called for an amendment of the U.S. Constitution that would ban them completely.
DeGeneres is married to a woman, so Bush has spent his career denying her human rights. This is not a simple disagreement between friends, unless you want to be friends with someone who does not agree with your very identity.
Of course, this is where rich celebrity politics come into play. She is privileged enough to not have to worry about matters like this. The timing is relevant, too. Currently, the Supreme Court is torn over a decision regarding federal protection for LGBT employees after two men were fired from their jobs for being gay and a woman was fired for being transgender.
DeGeneres faced many hardships and backlash throughout her career for being gay, so this is a relevant topic, but at this point, she is rich and famous enough to not be fired from her job. This is a privilege a large majority of the LGBT community does not have.
People become blinded by their privilege when they are rich. DeGeneres is past the point of politics truly affecting her life. Of course, she is not the only celebrity — just the most recent example.
If you look at the responses to her Twitter and Instagram posts, there are countless other celebrities praising and agreeing with her. These people do not care about the imperial destruction and exploitation of the global south or even the human rights of their fellow U.S. citizens. There is no sense of solidarity. Money causes them to act solely in their own self-interest, even if it involves hanging out at a football game with a war criminal.