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Newsletter: Don’t fire Samantha Bee. She’s no Roseanne Barr

Samantha Bee
Late-night television host Samantha Bee has apologized for using an expletive to describe Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter.
(Evan Agostini / Invision/Associated Press)

Good morning. I’m Paul Thornton, and it is Saturday, June 2, 2018.

Cable channel TBS has no choice: It must keep Samantha Bee. Stand by her. Loudly support her. Because when the president of the United States calls for anyone who is not a public official to lose their job, it changes things. At this point, Bee could have done something much worse than call the president’s daughter a feckless C-word in her otherwise on-point excoriation of Ivanka Trump’ total indifference to her father’s destructive immigration policies — and it wouldn’t matter. Demanding that private citizens lose their jobs for personally offending our dear leader is what authoritarians do, and we don’t live in an autocracy. Yet.

But, since we’re talking about Bee, we might as well consider her insult absent its implications for the future of American democracy. Bee unleashed her invective — which, as any of her viewers knows, is something she does on every one of her shows — the day after Roseanne Barr tweeted out a racially charged insult of former Obama White House advisor Valerie Jarrett that got her rebooted TV show summarily canceled by ABC. The Los Angeles Times’ Matt Fleischer explains what makes the two incidents different:

Samantha Bee seems to pride herself on having the wokest of late-night shows. She’s also gleefully profane. Sometimes that combination works. In this case, she could have done better.

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But “whatabouting” Bee’s sentiments with Roseanne’s recent racist gibberish?

No.

Being foul-mouthed is not the same as a white person calling a black person an ape, or a Jewish Holocaust survivor a Nazi.

It’s sad that I need to explain this, but being racist and spreading anti-Semitic propaganda is worse. Much, much worse.

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Why? Because Barr’s comments belittle an entire race of people and help spread paranoid fear of a Jewish global order. Dehumanizing entire groups of people as such puts them in danger of violent reprisal, and helps to justify the stripping of their civil rights.

There is no such inherent threat in Bee’s vulgarity. Rather, equating crudeness with Roseanne’s outlandish tweets normalizes racism and anti-Semitism.

That the White House would issue a full-throated condemnation of Bee while the president offered a dog-whistling defense of Barr speaks volumes.

Liberals have no problem turning on their own when they deserve it. See Kathy Griffin, Al Franken, Aziz Anzari, Lena Dunham … the list goes on.

This is not one of those cases.

Barr feigned an apology. And Trump? The star and matriarch of “Roseanne” was rightly punished for her expression of ugly racism. Were that the president of the United States faced a similar consequence, writes Carla Hall. Deputy editorial page editor Jon Healey says Republicans should thank their lucky stars that Barr was run off stage months before the midterm elections. Matt Fleischer warns that Barr’s resurgence and rapid flameout is what happens when you feed the trolls.

Don’t like the TSA? They’re watching you. The Transportation Security Administration is one of the most incompetent, boorish government agencies on the planet. Naturally, people complain when they’re told they must submit to a crotch-grabbing “enhanced patdown” when they forget to remove their belts in the airport security line, but the TSA can’t have that. In an op-ed article, Jim Bovard writes that the TSA’s tracking of less-than-cheerful fliers demands that agency’s disbandment. L.A. Times

California’s “jungle primary” might ruin things for Democrats — but that’s the point. Neither party loves the state’s top-two system, where the two candidates with the most votes appear on the general election ballot, no matter their party. That means Democratic or Republican candidates in some races may be shut out completely from the November ballot, something neither party likes. But top-two’s objective is to reduce the influence of political parties and make elections more about the candidates. If party leaders are complaining, it’s a sign the system is working. The Atlantic

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Spanish is not a foreign language in the United States. It’s really a basic lesson that ought to be common knowledge by now, but it bears repeating each time a jingoist buying groceries berates a parent for speaking Spanish to his or her child: Much of the United States was once part of Mexico, making Spanish a native language in the United States. California’s first constitution required all laws and other materials published by the (newly American) state to be in English and Spanish, and the use of Spanish in official government business was especially widespread in New Mexico. L.A. Times

It’s voting time, and The Times Editorial Board is here to help. In the run-up to California’s primary election on Tuesday, members of our editorial board extensively researched ballot initiatives and interviewed many of the candidates in person. The Times’ endorsements based on that reporting — including for judicial races — can be found here.

Reach me: paul.thornton@latimes.com


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