Don’t Do Me Any Favors By Suspending Tomi’s Show

I had no desire to write about Tomi Lahren following her diatribe against Beyonce‘s Super Bowl 50 Halftime performance last year. While I absolutely agreed that Lahren was overly caustic in her verbal dissertation of the singer’s “Formation” set, and criminally tried to undercut The Black Panther Party in the process, I remained uninterested in a think piece even after she continued to spew asinine, uneducated comments in the media and on her show Tomi on The Blaze. (A network founded by political commentator and wily conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck. The Blaze was also the name of the high school newspaper on the fictional series Beverly Hills, 90210. Fun fact). I chose to remain on the side of “what is understood, doesn’t need to be said” when it came to Lahren. Though, it is troublesome when talking heads like her deliver POVs in such tones and in exchange receive extremely high media attention for it (The New York Times headline for their December 2016 profile of her? “Young, Vocal and The Right’s Rising Media Star”). But I just couldn’t bother to slam my fingertips on the keyboard and let it rip. I was done with racists and ignoramuses getting more out of the writing skills I’ve managed to retain since college than the goodwill of so many and much more deserving nameless and faceless individuals.

There were tireless figures and writers that chose to engage in what I had abstained from and I’ve read some cutthroat and hilarious pieces on Lahren. She’s a gold mine for blogs and sites like The Root and Very Smart Brothas. VSB’s Editor in Chief Damon Young wrote: “It’s Time To Stop Allowing Ourselves To Be Seduced By Shitty White Women” after the shock jock of hip-hop radio Charlemagne Tha God was seen with Lahren in the streets of Times Square, following her canceled appearance on his morning show The Breakfast Club. I too was sick to my stomach when I viewed their matching pose snaps on Instagram, and footage of TMZ cameras trailing beside them, and their reps, on their way to, supposedly, lunch, drinks, or a chat. And this was after Charlemagne was on Tomi, post-Super Bowl, and tried to right the wrongs of her sad, deliberate misinterpretation of Black Lives Matter and disjointed cognizance of proven historical facts. Subsequent to the Times Square stroll, he had denounced co-signing any of her bullshit and swore to just being cordial, in the hopes of sparking some enlightenment on tolerance and racial honesty in conversation with her.

No, she is an abjectly awful person. She says abhorrent and hateful things, and has leveraged this abhorrence and hate to give herself a larger platform to infect more people with it and make more money off of it. She is willfully and dangerously ignorant, is either unaware of or unconcerned with historical context, and also seems to have no problem inciting violence against people protesting and brutalized by it. If Heaven exists — and I believe it does — and what we believe to be true about Heaven is actually true, if she died today she would not be there tomorrow. -Damon Young

I am going to briefly write about Tomi Lahren today and a little over a year to the date she became famous. And I won’t necessarily be bashing her. (That’s done and done).

She recently made an appearance on The View and revealed herself to be pro-choice on abortion. I was surprised by the stance and, I hate to admit it, a little reassured. So Lahren wasn’t a lost cause?? It was a minor jolt considering her unremitting I Voted For Trump declarations since the election, and the President had announced his troth to turn over Roe v. Wade to states individually this past January. Meanwhile, his VP Mike Pence just won’t stop fighting the wrong enemy that is Planned Parenthood, the most known place in America to get a safe abortion, and as a nonprofit organization offers so many services vital to the health and education of women, their bodies, and children.

In her circle of Republican, conservative, libertarian types, she experienced backlash for stating on The View: “I am a constitutional, ya know, someone that loves the Constitution. I’m someone that’s for limited government. So I can’t sit here and be a hypocrite and say I’m for limited government but I think the government should decide what women do with their bodies. I can sit here and say that as a Republican and I can say, you know what, I’m for limited government, so stay out of my guns, and you can stay out of my body as well.” As most of us know, the previous labels subscribe to “pro-life” (An awful term. Can we start saying “Anti-abortion”?) over “pro-choice” though it seems that votes for the former are more out of peer and group pressure than personal belief.

Once the episode aired, Glenn Beck criticized Lahren, his most notable employee of The Blaze. A network no one was seemingly checking for until Lahren came along. On Tuesday, it was confirmed the South Dakota native was suspended from The Blaze for a week for her pro-choice comments, and, per the news rumors, constant disagreements with The Blaze behind the scenes.

“Black Twitter” praised the decision to suspend Lahren, but I wasn’t elated. She got suspended for being pro-choice. That is awful. The determination to suspend Tomi was similar to when Milo Yiannopoulos got his Simon & Schuster book deal swept (away) from under him. In both cases, the shades of political correctness here felt alarmingly insincere (and hypocritical).

This winter, a past video interview with the ultimate troll of modern politics resurfaced, and Yiannopoulous was heard trying to place a positive spin on the uncomfortable aspect of young boys with older men: “In the homosexual world, particularly, some of those relationships between younger boys and older men — the sort of ‘coming of age’ relationship — those relationships in which those older men help those young boys discover who they are and give them security and safety and provide them with love and a reliable, sort of rock, where they can’t speak to their parents.” And later on: “You’re misunderstanding what pedophilia means. Pedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody 13-years-old who is sexually mature. Pedophilia is [an] attraction to children who have not reached puberty. Pedophilia is [an] attraction to people who don’t have functioning sex organs yet. Who have not gone through puberty. Who are too young to be able…That’s not what we are talking about. You don’t understand what pedophilia is if you are saying I’m defending it because I’m certainly not.”

The media and a majority of commentators across the Internet labeled the full transcript of his statements as promoting pedophilia. As he willingly resigned as an editor of Alt-Right website Breitbart in the heat of the criticism and issued an explanation on his Facebook page titled “A note for idiots”, Simon and Schuster canceled his book Dangerous.

So Tomi got suspended not because Lahren compared Black Lives Matter to the Ku Klux Klan on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, but because she stood up for a woman’s right to choose. Milo’s book deal got canceled because he got a little too rogue when talking about young boys exploring mature situations with much older males. Yet Simon & Schuster had looked the other way when Yiannopoulos (typing that surname will be the end of me) published or spoke racist or transphobic rhetoric for intentionally farcical purposes and during already shaky and inimical times in both America and the U.K. (he is British by birth).

Roxane Gay, who personally pulled her book, Hunger, from being published by Simon & Schuster after they signed Yiannopoulos to a $250,000 deal, announced that the publishing house did not deserve kudos for giving the brusque troll the boot. Yiannopoulous had made a career out of malicious content on social media and Breitbart. It was chilling to think he was further encouraged by the mainstream, familiar Simon & Schuster to spell out his polemics and have them protected in glossy hardcover in the first place.

As Gay explained:

In canceling Milo’s book contract, Simon & Schuster made a business decision the same way they made a business decision when they decided to publish that man in the first place. When his comments about pedophilia/pederasty came to light, Simon & Schuster realized it would cost them more money to do business with Milo than he could earn for them. They did not finally “do the right thing” and now we know where their threshold, pun intended, lies. They were fine with his racist and xenophobic and sexist ideologies. They were fine with his transphobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. They were fine with how he encourages his followers to harass women and people of color and transgender people online. Let me assure you, as someone who endured a bit of that harassment, it is breathtaking in its scope, intensity, and cruelty but hey, we must protect the freedom of speech. Certainly, Simon & Schuster was not alone in what they were willing to tolerate. A great many people were perfectly comfortable with the targets of Milo’s hateful attention until that attention hit too close to home.

To give this some pop culture context, Yiannopoulos ignited the racist trolling against SNL writer Leslie Jones when he was still on Twitter. He claimed to have read a bad review of the Ghostbusters remake she starred in (and was the only lead person of color in the main cast). Not that this would’ve made it better, but he didn’t collectively attack the quartet of actresses, as the other three were White. Just Jones. The vitriol was so harsh, the talented comedienne had to retreat from online. Twitter soon banned Yiannopoulos and it was after he was banned that the Simon & Schuster deal was offered.

Concerning Tomi, I’m not abruptly adding my name to the list of #TeamTomi. Like Danielle Lee Tomson stressed for The Huffington Post, we must remain wary of her. She has yet to wear sheep’s clothing on live TV. Regina George is not in hiding. She has shown who she is as a political force (of some kind) and while it was commendable to go against the average conservative thinker on the subject of reproductive rights. The question now may be, who the hell is Tomi Lahren? Where was this Lahren who mocked the Women’s March? A movement that wholeheartedly defends reproductive rights?

Now that Tomi is off The Blaze for coming out as newly pro-choice, I just hope that mainstream media does not take this as a sign they must bring this “Deplorable Renegade” into the fold simply because she does not tow the party line. This would be a grave mistake. Her one differing opinion from Glenn Beck should not brand her with the halo of free-thinking conservative. It does not take away everything she has said to become internet-famous. -Danielle Lee Tomson

Clearly, I’m more invested in what becomes of her than I am of Milo. While I believe that women who think conservatively should have a voice as liberals do, the verdict is still out on whether Lahren is the greatest choice for the younger crowd with her acerbic tongue. I’m definitely not suggesting that she stay quiet or back down. But it may be time to see how she can supply her strong opinions with a major dose of necessary verve. I’m a tad curious to see where she’ll go from here as a pro-choice, conservative representative.

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