Selective outrage has never been more obvious than the response to Michelle Wolf’s speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Trump’s campaign and presidency have been celebrated by those on the right for his candor and lack of political correctness. Wolf’s routine certainly didn’t feel held back. Wolf did what the press should be doing – speaking truth to power and putting a mirror up to those who have failed the American people.
Whenever a college protests a public speaker for their lack of political correctness (or, you know, protest a dude who has made bigoted comments) conservative media pundits proclaim that free speech is dead and that safe spaces are overwhelming America’s campuses. These same people are now shooketh because their delicate sensibilities can’t handle a woman saying the word pussy (As Wolf correctly noted, Trump said it first) or making jokes about empowered people abusing their power.
Here’s the difference between Wolf and anyone in the Trump Administration: She was punching up, not down. Wolf never joked about a woman’s appearance. Unless saying that someone has ‘the perfect smokey eye” is insulting. The closest she came to making fun of appearances was about men, which doesn’t have the same cultural weight as it does for women given society’s sexist beauty standards. She never advocated violence. She just insinuated the country might be better if Kellyanne Conway gets stuck so she can’t lie on TV anymore. Wolf’s comments and jokes were always about behavior and personality, which are exactly the criteria people should be judged on. While the Trump Administration’s policies negatively affect virtually every vulnerable person or group imaginable mostly because of their status of existing. Targets of Wolf have the entire American federal government behind them. They’re fine.
It feels important to mention that policy will not be made based on Wolf’s comments. Her jokes cannot be interpreted by the military as a course of action. The same can’t be said about our current provocateur-in-chief. Trump has “joked” about police violence, his Vice President wanting to hang gay people, oh, and women’s looks.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been applauded for staying in her seat and stoically facing down verbal attacks. Can I be heralded as a hero for stoically listening to Sanders lie from her podium day after day? Can the American public be celebrated for not walking out of the country after Trump verbally attacks entire groups of people or private citizens? How about when his minions like Sanders and Conway go on TV to either repeat or defend his often vulgar or racist claims? Sanders isn’t a victim here. Heather Heyer was a victim. People who were physically assaulted at Trump rallies are victims. Families being separated by ICE are victims.
We can’t ask a president and an administration infamous for lying and telling alternative facts to finally speak the truth. All we can do is what Wolf did. Point out their hypocrisy and try to laugh our way to November.