The Rebooted sitcom Roseanne was recently cancelled by ABC after its title-star, Roseanne Barr, launched a racist and Islamophobic attack against Valerie Jarrett, Former advisor to Barack Obama. Barr, referencing Jarrett, tweeted “Muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj”. The ape comparison is an age-old racist trope which has been used to dehumanise black people. Shortly after, Barr posted a lacklustre series of apologies which ranged from blaming the tweet on sleeping pills to justifying it as a bad joke. However, The damage was done.  The show’s network, ABC, stated that Barr’s tweet was “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with [their] values”. the cancellation of Roseanne was met with a resounding ‘I told you so’.

Source: Wiki Commons

The 1980s sitcom’s reboot premiered in March, and was met with wide-ranging criticism. Many rejected the show’s revival due to Barr’s controversial antics and her overt support of Donald Trump’s far-right policies. During the 2016 election, Barr had made headlines due to her expressed fondness of Trump, and her reposting of conspiracy theories, which frequently targeted Hilary Clinton. The show’s main characters, like Barr, were announced to be Trump Supporters and it was suggested that the reboot of the show would give a voice to a marginalised section of American Society in the mainstream media. Barr’s affection of Trump came as a surprise to some, since she had expressed socialist views and even unsuccessfully ran for President under the Green Party. ABC’s decision to cancel the airing of a politically-relevant episode of ‘Black-ish’, reflecting on the national anthem protests, caused further outrage due to the apparent double standards

RoseAnne Barr is no stranger to controversy, and one may even say it has become her raison d’être.

Barr is no stranger to controversy, and one may even say it has become her raison d’être. In 1990, she gave an infamous off-key rendition of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’, then proceeded to spit on the grounds of the football stadium whilst grabbing her crotch. Barr’s 2009 photoshoot for Jewish Magazine Heeb sparked anger, as she dressed as Adolf Hitler whilst holding a tray of burnt human-shaped biscuits. This overt reference to the holocaust was damned for its vulgarity and lack of sensitivity. In the following years, Barr continued creating scandals through her posting of provocative tweets.

when her racist tweet surfaced there was a deafening silence from the White House

The American president had initially called to congratulate Barr on the rating success of her show, yet when her racist tweet surfaced there was a deafening silence from the White House. Contrastingly, when comedian Samantha Bee referred to the President’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, using the c-word, Trump wasted no time in condemning her actions and calling for her firing. His failure to condemn his supporters comes as no surprise, especially after his insistence of blame on “both sides” during the far-right protests in Charlottesville. Trump’s selective outrage serves two crucial purposes: to distract the mainstream media from the on-going Russian investigation and to feed the insatiable appetite of his base.

Image: Wiki Commons

Trump’s 2016 campaign and presidency have served as a catalyst to social divisions in America. He has normalised ignorance, bigotry and prejudice. From describing much of the Global South as “sh*thole countries” to boasting about “grabbing” women’s genitals, Trump has tested the limits of acceptability and rationalised vulgarity. There is a piercing need for moderate Republicans to lead the charge against the extremist elements of their party; failure to end this racist infiltration will result in the party forever being damned for selling its soul for sake of a ballot cross.

hysteria has become the international sport of choice and it plays into the hands of his administration

Barr’s tweet is symptomatic of the Trumpian reign and exemplifies the process of top-down racism. The Trump administration must bear responsibility for the normalisation of racist rhetoric. ABC’s cancellation of the sitcom was the right decision, but the same energy must be used when condemning the behaviour of the commander in chief. Since Trump’s inauguration, hysteria has become the international sport of choice and it plays into the hands of his administration. In order for civility to be resorted, Americans must learn to set aside their political allegiance and come together to stamp out those who seek to destroy the values instilled by the founding fathers.

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