I started watching the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on C-Span because I think Michelle Wolf is funny. But then I turned off the television because it felt like I was participating in televised bullying. If this means I’m a weeny, then yes, I am.
I often think about my father these days as I watch the news and feel shocked over the comments coming out of politicians’ (include the President’s) mouths. HCE used to say, “Don’t lower yourself to their standards because they will always go lower than you will.”
When the President calls people names, those people usually don’t retaliate with more names because that would be childish. When Michelle Wolf says that – even if the Republican candidate is “Jeff Pedophile Nazi Doctor” the Democrats will “mess it up” I often think they will mess it up because 1) there is literally not a better candidate running or – more likely – 2) one side will use tactics that the other side will not use because . . . Dignity. Human Respect. Basic Maturity.
I get that Michelle Wolf is a comedian and comics speak uncomfortable truths (because truth is funny as well as stinging) but Saturday night felt unnecessarily stinging. The truest thing she said was at the end: “Flint still doesn’t have clean water” which is not at all funny. I hadn’t watch until the end, but I read about it.
When I also read the post-dinner comments that Michelle Wolf’s words “destroyed” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, I felt more than uncomfortable. It felt like those words further divided us and broke us as a culture. It wasn’t Michelle Wolf’s job to be the peacemaker. At all. But I am craving someone to be a peacemaker.
We have got to figure out a way to stop retaliating and be the people we say we are: working towards freedom and liberty and justice for all.
Who will lead us into that kind of response to our brokenness?
Back to my SHS dream: she and I were at camp together. We were literally doing crafts and making up skits – like you do. She seemed nice. I told her I was sorry for the way she had been treated at the dinner and she was still pretty angry about it. But then I asked her not to retaliate because . . . Jesus.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders and I might never be in the same camp and yet I still believe that nobody changes for the better because of exclusion and humiliation. Love changes people for good. Yes, I just said that. I don’t care if it sounds naive.
But it’s even truer than the fact that Flint still doesn’t have clean water.
Image from the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on April 28, 2018 in the Washington Hilton. I think she looked gorgeous that night.
“When they go low, we go high” – Michelle Obama. Let’s try that. ALL of us.
I didn’t watch it but I read about it this morning in the Post, including those who supported Wolf’s “routine” and those who did not. Thanks for saying this; right on point.
Jan, I felt the same when I was watching a re-cap of the evening. Her remarks about SH were so cruelly off-key as were her remarks about abortion. Felt like the evening played into the paranoid cries of media victimization by Trump and crew and did a disservice to comedy, journalism, and the American public who want more sane and civil discourse.
Thank you, the incident left me deeply troubled that it has come to this, and I’m grateful for your reminder. I also wish that somehow more could read your post.
When I watched after the fact, I thought the jokes at Sarah Huckabee’s expense were different from the others for several different elements. One, the woman was sitting right there, unable to hide from the cameras in the way that those in the crowd would be more protected at that moment. Two, for me calling someone a liar has always felt like the worst thing you can be called, because while we are terrified of those who commit crimes like murder or sexual assault, there is a particular sort of denigration of integrity of self when a liar is called out. Let’s not forget that Michelle used the word lies quite plainly and repeatedly–when she could have used other words, like falsehood, fibs, alternative facts, etc, to add comic variety–so there was a sense of unmasking that was not quite there with the other jokes. Third, that line about burning up facts and using them to create the perfect smoky eye was genius as far as snark goes, but that was why it felt like a punch in the gut. I can imagine a Disney villain song being written with that line, about a character that looks like Ursula or Maleficent. It made me think not of someone corrupt, but still human, but of someone inherently evil. That, coupled with the fact that many women use make-up as the supreme mask for all their insecurities, effectively rendered Sarah naked in front of the public eye. It turned her beauty into a reminder of something else. I’m sure Jesus would have said something about a woman being publicly humiliated in this way, even for her unrepentant sins.