Since Ellen DeGeneres came out to defend her friendship with George W. Bush, there’s been a lot of chatter around if we are “allowed” to have problematic friends. In response to people’s very justified anger, she said “[I’m] friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have. … Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them.”
If I had a dollar for every time a white person has said this to shame me for my “intolerance” of people that are complicit in oppression, I’d probably be able to buy some of the privilege that’s blinding them.
The truth is class privilege, white fragility and a lack of giving a shit about other people’s rights is what forms the basis of thinking that friendships and politics are separate – because guess what, they’re not. It’s time we call out all the shitty excuses people use to defend their problematic friends.
“But My Life Would Be So Boring If I Didn’t Engage With People Who Have Different Opinions”
Listen Stacey, if you think racism is the right way to spice up your life, then you have a problem. There’s a difference between having a different opinion and having a terribly problematic one.
A “different opinion” is when you disagree on if Chelsea or Abbie should win on the Bachelor. A different opinion is disagreeing on ice cream flavours, ideal date nights, movie genres and the pronunciation of GIF.
What doesn’t constitute as just a difference in opinion is fucking genocide (@ Ellen DeGeneres), or that gay people shouldn’t have rights, or that all Muslims are terrorists. Those aren’t opinions, those are hateful and dangerous ideas that are legitimately used every day in order to justify abusing and killing minorities. See: George W. Bush being a war criminal and causing the deaths of thousands of innocent people.
I don’t know who needs to hear this but “some people are less human than others and don’t deserve basic rights” is not merely a difference of opinion.
— Enlow-vira, Misandrist of the Dark (@courtenlow) October 8, 2019
White fragility can often play a role here – people are more offended at being told their behaviour is racist than actually being racist. Instead of doing the wrong thing and being complicit in the racism you witness, call it out and and everyone who disagrees. And if someone is just proudly problematic, cut them out and find decent humans to fill your time with instead.
“Who You Vote For Doesn’t/Shouldn’t Matter”
Ah, the most privileged thing anyone can ever say. It’s easy to not care about your problematic friend’s politics if they don’t affect you.
Yes, who you vote for does matter, because the policies you endorse are reflective of your values.
Someone that is voting for a party because of one policy about lowering business tax, despite that party having a priority of strengthening borders and immigration bans, is shitty AF – throwing a whole group of people under the bus because their suffering doesn’t affect you is cold-hearted and selfish.
And yes, I will cut out a friend for voting for an Islamophobic party when I am literally a Muslim person getting fucked over by that party.
Again, what we keep coming back to is this: ignoring or excusing problematic behaviour ultimately leads to endorsing it, because silence is what allows these people to keep behaving as they do. Call out shitty behaviour and cut out problematic friends who have damaging and destructive opinions – you do not need to be complicit in oppression like they are.
“You Have To Be Super Nice and Tolerant Of People If You Want Them To Support Your Fundamental Basic Rights”
As a brown Muslim woman, I cannot count the amount of times I have had people (particularly white women) tell me that I need to be nicer, more palatable, and less angry about my own oppression. That I need to stop taking everything so personally and start asking people kindly, with a gracious smile on my face, to please not try and kill/attack/deport/ban us, pretty please. Because who is going to give a shit about me otherwise, right?
This type of thinking is incredibly harmful as it implies that people like me need to be better than average, exceptional even, in order to be accepted in society. Like we have to earn basic decent treatment.
My kindness should have nothing to do with my human rights. I should be just as entitled to living without fear than the white guy next door. If someone’s support of an oppressed minority is only conditional to how much they like you as a person, then guess what – they were never an ally to begin with.
If you have a problematic friend with bad politics who isn’t interested in getting better, you absolutely can and should cut them out. Because the fact of the matter is that tolerance of intolerance is just as bad as intolerance itself.
What that means is if someone is friends with racists, then they excuse and by extension endorse that behaviour. Don’t be that person. Call up people who say problematic shit, argue with them, fight them, and if they aren’t going to budge – cut them out, and don’t be complicit in their validation of bigotry.
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