by Jeffery Rendall
There’s little doubt in today’s hyper-polarized American political climate that it takes guts to buck a trend. Rapper Kanye West earned much media and cultural interest recently for his overtly pro-Donald Trump tweets, drawing praise from conservatives and Republicans for his willingness to defy the politically correct thought police in order to voice opinions he knew would provoke an angry backlash from liberals and the hate-Trump-all-the-time crowd.
West’s “sin” in the eyes of his leftist critics was providing the impression (among liberal members of the black community) that he voluntarily tossed his own kind under the proverbial bus in order to selfishly inflate his reputational profile with people (sometimes known as “the deplorables”) who supposedly dislike the guy because he’s black.
The cruelest of West’s leftist faultfinders suggest he’s only after money and fame – and that Trump and conservatives are embracing West now because they envision some sort of political benefit deriving from being liked by a black entertainment figure.
In a piece called “Trump’s useful idiots,” Juan Williams wrote at The Hill last week, “For years, I have been critical of liberals who demean conservative black intellectuals as sellouts or Uncle Toms. Frankly, it is hypocritical of liberals in the media and academia to dismiss brilliant black conservatives with different views — people like Justice Clarence Thomas, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.).
“But a very important distinction needs to made between those serious, principled conservative thought-leaders and the growing class of black, pro-Trump provocateurs looking to cash in, such as Kanye [West] and video bloggers Diamond and Silk.
“How long will it take before the pro-Trump black provocateurs realize that funhouse mirrors can’t hide them from the scorn of people who judge their true reflection?”
True reflection? You mean black people who judge other black people on their political statements becausethey’re black and should know better? Williams correctly points out that historically speaking 90 percent of black Americans vote for Democrats…wouldn’t that make West’s decision to buck the trend inherently courageous instead of a mindless suck-up?
Not according to Williams. The longtime commentator (who was once drummed out of his position at NPR because he dared to say people might have reason to be wary of Muslims boarding airplanes) calls black Trump supporters like West “useful idiots” for the president because they’re helping defeat the stereotype that people of certain racial groups should all vote – or think – like other people in their own race. Lord knows, everyone who’s black must be the same…or every woman must care about Obamacare and birth control or all Hispanics believe in open borders and amnesty so they should automatically hate Republicans.
Williams’ is the same line of thinking that condescends and looks down on lower-income rural whites as being backwards brained country bumpkins because they flock to Trump despite the New Yorker’s vast wealth and lavish lifestyle. If Williams is correct, shouldn’t all poor white people reflexively think as a group? What if a country music star from the conservative heartland turned out to be a liberal and touted Obama?
Did Williams consider Garth Brooks a “useful idiot” when the singer said of Obama (as reported by Nicholas Ballasy of CNS News back in 2011), “Yeah, I think what President Obama is finding out is all that we want to do, the system kind of doesn’t allow the most powerful guy in the world to kind of do his job and I’m sure nobody’s more frustrated than him to complete those promises that he did and I think he’s trying his heart out. I love him to death and I fully support him and I just wish him well because it’s got to be hell in that office.…
“Brooks continued, ‘The whole political system kind of has me concerned right now to tell you the truth –200 years old and we might think of about, you know, kind of kicking it in the ass a little bit. It just seems like we vote for things because they’re Republican or Democratic.’”
That Garth Brooks…what a guy – and what sterling political analysis he offered! So, Kanye West gets buried under an avalanche of leftist misery for tweeting Trump was “my boy,” but Brooks was heralded as a thinking man’s celebrity because he loved Obama and aired out his thoughts publicly? (Note: To his credit Brooks said he would perform at Trump’s inauguration if asked – but then declined to do it.)
Many conservatives (myself included) argued numerous times that celebrities don’t deserve any kind of special highlighting when they voice political opinions. In most cases these intellectual lightweights become famous because of their good looks or acting ability – or willingness to endure Harvey Weinstein’s “casting couch” system of Hollywood merit – so what qualifies any of them to serve as experts to dish on what’s happening in the Washington swamp?
It’s almost cringeworthy whenever a celebrity steps to the microphone and starts discussing politics. Most of the time they’re saying something anti-conservative or anti-Republican and almost always is intended to appease the leftist “resistance” groups in the country. These cowards are opportunistically preaching to the liberal choir, which makes someone like Kanye West all the more unique because he’s defiantly swimming against the popular tide.
Wasn’t there a time when leftists admired such anti-establishment courage? Could it be liberals like Juan Williams are afraid a prominent black celebrity (such as Kanye West) speaking out for Trump might convince other like-minded minority individuals to do the same? Why isn’t Williams labeling Colin Kaepernick a “useful idiot” for his national anthem kneeling antics that essentially got the quarterback blackballed from the NFL but won him adoration from the who’s who of liberal land?
The list is long of entertainment industry conservatives who’ve been black-listed for airing their political views. Tim Allen of “Home Improvement” fame had the audacity to say nice things about Trump (and even attend his inauguration) – for his trouble Allen’s popular show “Last Man Standing” was canceled by ABC (about a year ago) despite the comedy’s consistently high ratings and cultural appeal to an important advertising demographic.
It turns out Allen may get the final laugh, however, as “Last Man Standing” has been picked up by rival network FOX. The show will return this fall after a one-year hiatus. Scott Morefield of the Daily Caller reported over the weekend, “The upcoming return of Tim Allen’s ‘Last Man Standing’ had conservatives and Trump supporters excited at the prospect of seeing one of their own, the iconic character Mike Baxter, back on the small screen. Leading the pack, of course, was Allen himself, who is clearly chomping at the bit to get back to work.
“’Excited?’ Allen said in a statement Friday. ‘Team LMS was in the sixth inning, ahead by four runs, stands were packed and then for no reason, they call off the game. It leaves you sitting in the dugout, holding a bat and puzzled. Now we get the news from Fox that it’s time to get back out on that diamond — hell yes, I’m excited! When I heard the offer to create more episodes of Last Man Standing, I did a fist pump so hard I threw my back out. It’s the fans!’
“Others, including actor James Wood, former Trump aide Sebastian Gorka, and former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, expressed their delight via Twitter…”
ABC offered a number of excuses to justify canning Allen and “Last Man Standing” last spring – that it was too expensive, didn’t fit into the network’s new program line-up, was going into what would’ve been its seventh season (therefore greatly increasing production costs), was produced by a rival studio (FOX) and, well, the ratings weren’t really all that good, were they?
Everything except politics played a role in the ABC executives’ decision, right?
The early success for the “Roseanne” revival this spring supposedly prodded FOX to hear the pleas from hundreds of thousands of LMS fans to bring the show out of cancellation limbo. No wonder conservatives are happy now – the Allen-centered show is one of a token few where cultural and political topics are discussed in a semi-balanced way. Fans of the show (full disclosure: my family are huge supporters) know there are several liberal characters (including by implication, Mike Baxter’s wife Vanessa) presenting the total range of viewpoints.
People enjoy Last Man Standing because it isn’t preachy yet still manages to extoll the virtues of faithful marriage and relationships, church attendance and socially responsible living. For example, the oldest daughter on the program (Kristin) has a son she birthed as a teenager out of wedlock (and subsequently married the father). None of the Baxter family are “saints,” yet they still manage to do the right thing. It’s a good show that seamlessly mixes message with humor – no wonder it’s so well-appreciated by conservatives.
Another family “show” revolves around the Trumps themselves, though they’re not fictitious and often don’t choose to be on TV — especially when the media coverage of them is almost all negative. It’s not exactly rare to read about the Trumps in the news these days – and presidential son Don Jr. has engendered more than his fair share of comment of late.
David M. Drucker of the Washington Examiner reported over the weekend, “President Trump’s eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., is raising his political profile with plans to travel the country raising money and driving voter turnout for congressional Republicans in the midterm.
“Trump Jr. has been dropping hints about his upcoming political activities at least since late winter. This week, he accelerated those plans with the hiring of Republican political adviser Andrew Surabian and began mapping out a strategy for where, and how, to most effectively play a role in defending GOP majorities in Congress.
“’He recognizes that he’s a political weapon, and wants to be aimed in the right direction,’ a source close to Trump Jr. said on Friday. ‘He has as much juice with the conservative base, and the larger Republican Party, as anybody right now.’”
Yes indeed, that’s accurate. Of course, Trump Jr. is on tabloid covers since he’s in the process of getting a divorce and the news media can’t help itself in seeking to inflict as much pain as possible on the nation’s first family. Statistically speaking half of all marriages end in divorce but if a member of the Trump family is involved, there has to be special attention paid to it, right?
There’s little doubt Don Jr. has made himself the most visible Trump child since the president was inaugurated. Some might say it’s because the family’s oldest son was in on the infamous Trump Tower meeting with a Russian attorney in June of 2016; others would claim it’s due to Don Jr.’s future political aspirations. Even Trump daughter Ivanka, who works in the West Wing, doesn’t attract nearly the media scrutiny Don Jr. produces.
Don Jr. has also been the most visible of the Trump children in defending his father’s administration and taking on the media, so it’s not surprising he’s going to be hitting the road hard to prop up Republican candidates who would come to Washington to help with efforts to get the president’s MAGA agenda through the slow-walking Congress.
Will he attract controversy? Sure, but the Trump brand is all about publicity, even if it’s negative. Does that mean Juan Williams would consider Don Jr. a “useful idiot?”
Regardless of who speaks on the Trump administration, it’s going to stir notice and comment from the self-absorbed media. Saying nice things about the president is akin to treason to Trump’s enemies – and if you’re a member of a protected Democrat class (like Kanye West), prepare yourself for the flak storm to come.