ABC, which is owned by Walt Disney, cancelled “Roseanne” immediately after star Roseanne Barr tweeted that Valerie Jarrett, former senior adviser to President Barack Obama, was the progeny of the Muslim Brotherhood and “Planet of the Apes.”
One poster on The New York Times’ website suggested that Barr was riffing on the political commentary offered by the movie. But racists have been comparing blacks to apes for centuries. Barr has built her career on what can only be called white trash humor. Somehow I don’t think she was aiming for political allegory.
Those who chalk up her firing to political correctness are the same people who think that the NFL is justified as a business in imposing standards on the black players who kneel during “The Star-Spangled Banner.” But you can’t cut it both ways. If it’s OK for the NFL to tell protesting players who would take a knee during the National Anthem either to stand or to remain in the locker room at that time, then it’s more than OK for ABC to can Barr.
Let’s look at the differences in the two situations. Colin Kaepernick and those who followed him in kneeling during the Anthem were protesting an idea – inequality in America. Barr was savaging an individual. (Actually, there are those who say that Barr’s infamous singing of the Anthem before a 1990 San Diego Padres’ game did more to disrespect it than a kneeling Kaepernick ever did.)
Kaepernick hurt no one but himself as he has been effectively blackballed from the NFL. Barr has cost hundreds of people their livelihoods, because of her bigotry, classlessness and thoughtlessness.
Frankly, I think ABC missed what the classy Jarrett has called “a teaching moment.” I would’ve fired Barr, brought back the show and had the other characters react to her off-camera “death” in the opening episode. Then I would’ve instructed the writers that she was never to be mentioned again. No one is indispensable. The best way to deal with such people is not just to shun them but to act as if they never existed.