Tomi Lahren’s Oscar Rant, Deconstructed

It’s  not unusual for the Academy Awards to get political.

This year, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi and winner of the Best Foreign Film category for his movie, The Salesman, boycotted the ceremony due to President Donald Trump’s travel ban on seven Muslim-dominated countries. Trump eventually plans to sign a revised executive order on the now lifted ban.

Nobody took this protest more personally than Blaze commentator Tomi Lahren. On Monday evening, she aired her grievances on her show’s  “Final Thoughts” segment.

There’s a lot to unpack here, so let’s break it down.

You Can’t Lecture Me                                                                                                                   One of the takeaways from Lahren’s Monday night video is that because Farhadi is from Iran, he has no place criticizing United States public and foreign policies. There is no denying that Iranian human rights are bleak.  That said, Farhadi’s Iranian heritage doesn’t mean he cannot criticize the United States. If nothing else, Farhadi is the perfect critic of the United States as he knows what human rights violations look like first-hand.

Furthermore, diversionary tactics about U.S. public policy are intellectually lazy. Iran is–and has been– in violation of human rights. But we have scars of our own: abhorrent prison conditions, wealth inequality, a prison-pipeline, police brutality, employment discrimination in the STEM fields, and disparities in drug enforcement.

Yes, Iran might be sentencing children to death. But never forget police officers shot and killed Tamir Rice with no hesitations.

“State Sponsor of Terror”                                                                                                         Lahren goes on to call Iran a state sponsor of terror and tells her audience that the need to “keep Americans safe” is more important than his feelings.

Lahren is right that the Obama administration has previously labeled Iran a state sponsor of terror. But, there is an error in the statement that followed. She blamed “the jihadis trained and funded by Iran and other six countries” for creating “fear, aggression and war” rather than the banning of these particular countries.

However, the Cato Institute found that none of the nationals of the seven countries listed in Trump’s travel ban have killed anyone in terrorist attacks on U.S. soil between 1975 and 2015. This, of course, includes Iran. However, nationals that have committed terrorist attacks on U.S. soil do not have their home countries represented on the travel ban list. That said, a person’s country of origin is still not a good factor to use, given the small likelihood of being killed in a terrorist attack.

Which begs the question, how does Lahren–and her supporters– feel about the fact that Trump has not included such countries in the original ban, presumably because he has business dealings there?

Hypocritical Hollywood(?)                                                                                                           Lahren took the opportunity to lambast celebrities for their wealth, calling them hypocrites for having personal security and guest lists. “Sounds like extreme vetting!” Lahren grins.

This is a false equivalency. The New York Times reports that the already tough vetting process can take up to two years. Although most individuals do not have a personal bodyguard, we are all protected by police officers in our communities– an issue Lahren takes very seriously.

Second, a celebrities wealth does not mean they can not have empathy for the general public.

Although celebrities likely will not have to worry about access to contraceptives or health care,  they are still impacted by the policies implemented by Trump and they can still have empathy for people less fortunate than themselves. It is also very dishonest of Lahren to align herself with the public.

Calling the Kettle Black                                                                                                                  While Lahren may not be as wealthy as the celebrities who have attended the Academy Awards, she’s still pretty privileged.

Lahren is not one of us. She reportedly has a net-worth of $500 thousand.  Although it’s less than the net worth of other celebrities, it’s significantly more than the net worth of people her age. Lahren was fortunate enough to leave her home state, South Dakota, to attend college out of state at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.

Immediately after college, she applied for an internship at One America Network, but she walked away with her own TV show. Eventually, she was picked up by the Blaze to host another show of her own.  Furthermore, she has a pretty large following and is a rising star in conservative circles. Most people do not receive this opportunity. Tomi Lahren is not one of us and it bears repeating.

Representation                                                                                                                                   Lahren also condemned the 2016 #Oscarssowhite boycott.

While I agree with Lahren that there should be healthy discourse in the entertainment industry– I do not agree with her comparison of people of color to conservatives.

Her complete dismissal of last year’s protest reveals her misunderstanding of why the protest existed in the first place. In 2016, the University of Southern California revealed that 71.7% of speaking characters on screen are white. Black actors also have a very complicated history in the entertainment industry.

I grew up in white neighborhoods. I grew up only being able to point out a small number of people in movies and on TV that I felt represented me. I grew up in classrooms where I was one of the few black students. I grew up with kids from my own school marveling over the fact I didn’t speak in African-American Vernacular English (or ebonics, as they liked to call it).

At the risk of being condensing, this is an experience that white Americans are unlikely to ever fully grasp. If there were a greater representation of black people in the media–beyond the tired tropes– I would have never had to hear “You know….you’re [blank] for a black girl!”  Especially considering these individuals may only be exposed to black people through the media.

Although conservatives aren’t represented as much in the entertainment industry, most of them (with few exceptions) are still represented through their identities. Lahren may not have her ideologies represented at an awards ceremony, but she’s still represented.

Lahren is a wealthy, young, conventionally attractive white woman. She may not agree with anything someone like Emma Stone has to say, but she certainly has more in common with the Best Actress winner than I do as a black woman.

Well, My President Is Richer Than Your Idol!                                                                        What’s truly ironic is that just moments after Lahren shames liberal-leaning celebrities for their wealth, she goes on to fawn over the POTUS’ wealth. Considering Lahren shames the Hollywood elite– something Trump was actually once part of— our president’s wealth should mean nothing to her.

She also goes on to claim that he cares about the average American. However, if you ask a member of the general public, it’s truly debatable that they believe Trump cares about them or their concerns. Many conservatives even argue that he doesn’t represent their values.

Following the Women’s March on Washington, Trump expressed shock. “Watched protests yesterday but was under the impression that we just had an election! Why didn’t these people vote?” His lack of awareness–that most of these people likely did turn out to vote– does not sound like he cares about the average American.

During a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump was asked to address growing anti-Semitism. Instead, Trump started by rambling about his electoral college win. This level of arrogance does not sound like someone who cares about the average American.

As a business mogul, Trump has repeated been in violation of the Fair Housing Act and kept black people from renting his properties. Recently, when reporter April Ryan asked him if he would include Congressional Black Caucus in future conversations, he asked her if they were friends of hers, and to set it up for him. This level of insensitivity does not sound like someone who cares about the average American.

Regardless, President Trump doesn’t even care about what people think about him. It’s hard to believe someone cares about the average American if they aren’t interested in their fears and concerns.

Time and time again, Tomi Lahren begs for liberals to understand her and to realize that she isn’t racist because she doesn’t agree with their ideology.  She might not be racist in the malicious sense of the word, but it’s hard to see someone as anything but the essence of their commentary on the given topic is “if you don’t like it, leave my country.”

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