Barr the Bigot: How Racism Exposes the Authoritarian Strain

Six years before Disney’s ABC network decided to give her another shot at television glory, Roseanne Barr ran for president as the Peace and Freedom Party’s nominee after losing the Green Party nod to Jill Stein. Just before the 2012 election, Barr said something horrible and ignorant about transgender people on Twitter and wound up in a shouting match with the world.

Sounds familiar.

The consternation was considerable at the time. Barr had spoken at Occupy rallies and campaigned on a progressive Green Party platform, later campaigning with none other than Gold Star mother Cindy Sheehan at her side. She was a hero to many at the time, having carved out a place for herself with her bare hands and raw personality in a male-dominated business. Where was all this hatefulness coming from?

Six years later, and we’re all seeing what was obvious from the jump: Roseanne Barr has always been a bigoted conspiracy theorist.

Flash forward a year to November 2013. Barr penned a letter to members of Congress demanding they “stop the dictatorship initiated in the Executive Branch.” The actor was deeply displeased with the Affordable Care Act and wanted it erased from the books. “(Sixteen) Democratic Members of the Senate met with Obama the other day begging for an extension in the implementation of ObamaCare,” she wrote. “Of course they didn’t mention the Nazi origins of it, fearful they would be thrown out of Congress.”

In the opening paragraph of her letter, Barr accuses President Obama of “contriving false flag terror attacks to remove the 2nd amendment (Boston Marathon; case in point).”

I knew Krystle Campbell, one of the two young women killed in the Boston Marathon bombing. She served whiskey and pirate smiles from behind the bar at the Summer Shack in downtown Boston. She was so beloved by her friends that she was a bridesmaid no less than 17 times. Soon, there will be a playground bearing her name. It should go without saying that she was neither an agent of the federal government nor a crisis actor involved in a “false flag” operation designed to help Obama grab up the guns.

Here’s the thing we all have to understand: Roseanne Barr was happy to give lip service to democracy until Obama stepped into the White House, at which point she abandoned all that in favor of white authoritarian rule. There is quite a lot of that going on nowadays.

There is science on this. “Political scientists Steven V. Miller of Clemson and Nicholas T. Davis of Texas A&M,” writes Noah Berlatsky of NBC News, “have released a working paper titled ‘White Outgroup Intolerance and Declining Support for American Democracy.’ Their study finds a correlation between white Americans’ intolerance, and support for authoritarian rule. In other words, when intolerant white people fear democracy may benefit marginalized people, they abandon their commitment to democracy.”

That’s Barr to the last syllable. She was always brash and occasionally inappropriate, but her latent racism did not erupt into plain view until she saw a Black man rise to the presidency. The very idea was so repugnant to her and her ilk that she accused Obama of deliberately arranging the Boston Marathon bombings that killed my friend. Anything, anything at all, to de-legitimize the first Black president.

People like Roseanne Barr are whom Donald Trump counts on, as he has built his political power structure in part around Lyndon Johnson’s maxim about persuading a working-class white man to accept his own economic exploitation by stoking his sense of racial superiority. “Hell, give him somebody to look down on,” Johnson said, “and he’ll empty his pockets for you.”

Trump’s Campaign 2020 strategy in a nutshell.

Roseanne Barr has been tweeting racist messages amid her froth of conspiracy theories for years. Now her world is on fire because she jumped on Twitter and compared Barack Obama’s adviser Valerie Jarrett to an ape, repeating the same racist slur that she used in 2013 against Susan Rice, who served as Obama’s national security adviser.

And here we are. The nonsense about ACA Nazis and Boston false flags has been squatting like a turd on Barr’s personal website for five long years, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg with her. Does anyone think ABC actually did any vetting of their now-fallen new star? Or were they just after the advertising dollars of that subset of Trumpy TV viewers who send letters to General Mills whenever they see interracial couples on Cheerios commercials. How’s that working out?

ABC and Disney rolled the dice on Roseanne Barr and lost, bigly. They deserve everything that is coming their way.