I Have Sympathy For Roseanne, But She’s Still A Racist

In an emotional interview with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Roseanne Barr expressed deep regret for her racist outburst on Twitter against former Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett, whom she likened to an ape.

“I apologize to anyone who thought, or felt offended and who thought that I meant something that I, in fact, did not mean,” the actress and comedian said. “It was my own ignorance, and there’s no excuse for that ignorance.”

“I don’t excuse it. I horribly regret it,” said Barr, who lost the reboot of her show “Roseanne”.

“I lost everything, and I regretted it before I lost everything. And I said to God, ‘I am willing to accept whatever consequences this brings because I know I’ve done wrong. I’m willing to accept what the consequences are,’ and I do, and I have. But they don’t ever stop. They don’t accept my apology or explanation. And I’ve made myself a hate magnet.”

During the podcast Barr also  broke down as she discussed the gravity of being labeled a racist hate figure.

“I’m a lot of things, a loud mouth and all that stuff,” Barr said. “But I’m not stupid for God’s sake. I never would have wittingly called any black person and say they are a monkey. I just wouldn’t do that. I didn’t do that. And people think that I did that and it just kills me. I’m just so sorry that I was so unclear and stupid.”

Unfortunately though, Roseanne doesn’t get a pass on the racism, and for one very good reason: she has a history of comparing black people to apes as evidenced by this deleted tweet from her account:

So when Barr says “I never would have wittingly called any black person and say they are a monkey,” and that “I meant something that I, in fact, did not mean,” she is lying. And for that reason, it impossible to take anything else she says seriously. This isn’t a green light for the twitter justice mob to descend upon her again, but to finally put to rest Barr as a public figure. She had her time in the limelight and has ruined it by continuously expressing her deeply unpleasant views on social media. Barr may well be sincere in her apology, but it is impossible to tell given she isn’t telling the truth about her history of racism against black people. And when you compare black people to apes, there isn’t really any way of coming back from it.

It is, however, a sign of maturity to deeply disapprove of someone while simultaneously feeling empathy towards them. I struggle with this often, particularly when it comes to people like Donald Trump and his most ardent supporters. But they are human beings too and should be extended a degree of respect and sympathy. While I have no intention of engaging with them at this point in time, I do not wish them unnecessary suffering. Roseanne Barr — a vociferous Trump supporter — represents perhaps the perfect opportunity to practice this balanced approach to people we cannot stand.

I do feel a degree of sympathy for Roseanne — an unpopular position I know, but a necessary one in the times we are living in. Barr is clearly not well psychologically, and being hounded on social media by millions of people is almost certainly having a serious effect on her mental health. She screwed up. Badly. But she shouldn’t be made to suffer for the rest of her life. Barr is a 65 year old woman with a history of extremely erratic behavior, and it seems like spending a lot of time excoriating her for this latest burst of madness is a pointless endeavor. I believe her interview with Boteach was, at least for the most part, sincere, and she is clearly in significant distress.

Barr has paid for her sins with the cancellation of her show and the enormous public backlash she continues to face.  There isn’t really much of her left to get angry about, so perhaps it is time to focus that energy elsewhere. After all, there are plenty of Trump apologists and racists far more dangerous than she is.

Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.

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