*Note: Yes, this post is a long one. For those who find this “TL;DR,” please scroll to the bottom, where I’ve linked a nine-minute YouTube video that makes all of these points in short. For those who want more, read on.
I’ve been following the right-wing political commentator Tomi Lahren for a few months now on social media, reason being that I find her so fascinating. Watching her videos and reading her Tweets allows me a glimpse into the mind of a staunch, gun-toting Republican, someone I wouldn’t interact with in my day-to-day life as an introverted Canadian animal rights activist.
The reason I find Tomi so fascinating is because she’s also extremely confusing. Tomi is a very angry girl who is tone-deaf about social issues, yet speaks to a large national platform of extreme conservatives, who I assume agree with her considering the following that she’s developed after going viral for her visceral critiques on Obama, Beyoncé, and#BlackLivesMatter.
Most of those who call her out dismiss her as a bigot, but after analyzing a number of her videos, I honestly don’t think she is.
She is, however, extremely angry about issues she isn’t very well-versed on.
And why is that?
Tomi Lahren is an outspoken anti-feminist. On her Instagram, she holds up a sign saying “feminists, you don’t speak for me and you never will.”
But does she really want that? Without feminism, she wouldn’t be able to have a political talk show at all. In fact, feminism is one of the major differences between democracy and Sharia law, between the freedom-based political ideology of the United States (which she loves) and the ideology of most of the Middle East (which she has called “the desert” and “the sandbox“).
She has criticized the Democrats for being pro-family planning, saying that she doesn’t need free birth control because as a Republican she “can take care of herself.” What she has failed to understand is that the lunatic fringe of the right wing (i.e. her audience) doesn’t want her to have reproductive rights at all, whether or not she pays for it.
The very extreme end of the Republican party is anti-abortion, anti-birth control, and pro-barefoot, baby making females. To them, she is just a pawn with a pretty face, and in a hypothetical reality, as soon as she finished helping them to establish their desired world order, they’d have her fired from her show and send her straight to the kitchen.
And it’s okay to admit that! If Tomi would add a nuanced depth to her heartfelt speeches, rather than just shout Republican slogans at the screen until her chest turns beet red, she could be taken much more seriously. Perhaps she hasn’t thought through her own views thoroughly enough to do so.
Surprisingly, she has acknowledged the existence of racism and sexism. In an interview with Elle, she says “I’m not going to say it doesn’t happen; it certainly does. I get paid less than the men here; it drives me crazy.” She has also said, “Do I believe men and women should have equal rights? Absolutely, there is no question,” and “It isn’t easy being a girl these days.” In the same breath, she went on to say, “No, not for the reasons the feminists and Hillary preach about […but…] if you don’t act like a slut, you’re a prude. If you act like a slut, you’re a slut.”
She told Elle, “I’m going to keep working my ass off, and one day I’ll be able to call my own shots. That’s going to be my best revenge, not begging for special treatment.”
There’s a difference between “special treatment” and “equal treatment.” It sounds to me like Tomi is in favour of equal treatment, and sexist double standards obviously bug her.
But is she a feminist? Somehow, no?
Racism and #BlackLivesMatter
If sexism “drives her crazy,” Tomi is ten times more worked up about racism. Not because it occurs, but because people keep talking about it. She is specifically upset by people who speak openly about racism in relation to police brutality.
And if you thought that Tomi’s words on feminism were contradictory, her crude, reactionary response to police brutality is even more so. When discussing the tragic death of Alton Sterling, Tomi said that to all those grieving, “I’m with you,” but followed that up with ad-hominem attacks on Sterling and speculation about his criminal background, none of which had anything to do with the case at hand.
Did he deserve to die for his sins? Tomi doesn’t tell us, but implies that yes, he did.
During a BET award acceptance speech, when Jesse Williams pointed out that twelve-year-old Tamir Rice would have been fourteen yesterday if he hadn’t been shot by police in a drive-by during broad daylight for playing with a plastic gun on his front lawn, Tomi fired back that #NotAllCops are unjustified for taking black lives, diverting the narrative away from the clearly innocent Tamir quickly as she condescendingly went on to say that “our ancestors” fought to free “your ancestors” from slavery.
In her trademark shrill and acrid voice, she called out Jesse Williams for being rich and privileged, detached from what he preaches about. I’m not sure what that has to do with anything. We are all born with certain privileges along with certain disadvantages, and if Jesse wants to strategically purpose the privileges that he has to speak to an audience about issues that matter to him, all power to him. Tomi does the same, and so do I.
I was pleasantly surprised that Tomi could admit that slavery was wrong (so she isn’t that behind the times), but in typical Tomi fashion she ignored the complexity of the issue. Both whites and blacks have ancestors that were both slave owners and slave masters, due to rampant rapes of female slaves. Even Jefferson had offspring with some of his female slaves, making America the only country I know of where someone could have a lineage with both slave and presidential roots. Acknowledging such a heavy topic would probably make Tomi uncomfortable and flushed.
Also, what does slavery have to do with police brutality, BLM, and Tamir Rice’s death? Can she stay current for one second?
Tomi has also spoken out against protests against the death of Sandra Bland (yes, you read that right). She has likened BLM to the KKK, even though one is dedicated to ending police brutality and the other was all about increasing it. Tomi also famously shouted and turned Republican-red when Beyoncé saluted the Black Panthers during the Superbowl, upset that the singer wanted “an overthrow of white domination.”
“What is it they are trying to convey here!” she raved.
Yes, she really said “they.”
Was this racist or does she always speak about Beyoncé in plural? I don’t know, but I don’t think Queen Bey would mind being addressed with the royal “we.” 😉
In any case, all of this “why are they trying to stir up trouble” rhetoric reeks of ages past. Seriously, does she get a septuagenarian from the country club to write her speeches for her? For all of Tomi’s half-baked arguments, I still wonder, is she simply young and foolish or does she just not write her own stuff? I’m amazed that the pro-white domination line wasn’t edited out by her network.
I don’t think Tomi is a real racist person. I think that she’s angry that there’s still bias in our world, but her anger is misplaced. Rather than get angry about racism, she gets angry about people who get angry about racism.
Military and Police
Tomi has said in an AMA interview that she likes the idea of open communication between people who are not like-minded. After all, we have far more that unites us than divides us, and we could live in a much better world if we just talked to each other more. She says that this is why she’s open to interviewing feminists, supporters of Hillary, Lena Dunham fans, and African Americans. I LOL’ed that she put this eclectic group together in one category in that mind of hers, but I think her heart was in the right place when she said this.
I agree with her thoughts on open discussion with those she disagrees with, but this isn’t what she does. If she wants to foster productive communication between opposing groups, she needs to stop shouting at people.
In the same interview, Tomi also expressed support for libertarianism and limited government, but she doesn’t denounce the idea of a militarized police state. She wants to talk things through, yet this reactionary Republican also wants to “bomb the desert” and expresses nothing but disdain for BLM and those that want to “take our guns.”
I wish that Tomi knew that it’s okay to “back the blue” and acknowledge that blue lives matter, but also acknowledge that black lives matter (and no Tomi, it isn’t “#BlackLivesMatter more,” it’s “#BlackLivesMatter too”). Black, blue, white, red, orange, and brown lives matter. One does not negate the other. It’s also okay to support the troops and show them appreciation for the sacrifices that they make, but also say that you are against the rationale behind the war for which they put their lives in danger.
Criticizing the war is not criticizing the troops. Criticizing police brutality is not criticizing police.
It’s okay to have complex political thoughts, Tomi. Not everything is black and white.
In that AMA interview, Tomi said that she loves (big surprise!) steak nachos and pigs in a blanket. On Instagram, she’s admitted to being a huntress while posing for lovely, sponsored photos for pro-hunting companies, which I won’t link to. If you took her at face value (which I refuse to do), you’d think she had no regard for not only black lives, but also animals’ lives—yet Tomi has a rescue dog. As with her political views, Tomi’s views on animal rights are rudimentary and underdeveloped.
If she doesn’t know that by going vegetarian we could put a stop to world hunger, species extinction, rain forest destruction, and global warming, it should also come as no surprise that she also doesn’t appear to know that global warming even exists.
Tomi takes jabs at the left for naming “weather” as a major threat and not putting enough emphasis on radical Islam (again, I’m amazed that her network didn’t school her on the difference between climate and weather).
“Energy independence is a beautiful thing,” she says in a two-minute segment for her network, “Frack baby frack, and drill baby, drill.” She goes on to say that she wants to keep oil and gas industry jobs for her fellow Americans and lose the ties to the Arabs, but also that she doesn’t want to destroy the environment—”quite the opposite.”
So what are her plans to preserve the planet while she fracks and drills America dry? She doesn’t say.
I actually agree with her that energy independence is great, but why the scarcity-based, “us vs. them” mentality? Especially when coming from someone who values the freedoms that a capitalist society gives her? What if all nations were energy independent? What if instead of looking at it as “taking jobs away” from the oil industry, we looked at it as job growth in new, more modern industries? We only have one world, so why burn it up with carbon dioxide from transport and methane from animal agriculture?
Not everyone has fossil fuels, and those who do will eventually find those wells drying up, but all countries have sun, wind, and water (or at least one of the three). I think all countries should try to become energy independent by investing in green technology.
Once again, the issue isn’t black and white. You can support energy independence, the economy, and environmentalism at the same time if you take the time to think a little more before you speak.
Tomi, you don’t have to believe what you’re told to believe just because it’s the “conservative” thing to do. If you were born 300 years ago, I have no doubt in my mind that you would be a colonialist, all in favour of ransacking “the Orient” and “the Dark Continent.” If you were born 200 years ago, you would sing the praises of slavery and all the good it does for the economy. If you were born in the 60s or 70s like the last generation, you would be pro-Vietnam War and rally against civil rights. You were born in 1992 when open racism and sexism were less acceptable, so you’re a carnist. You love your steak yet you also love your dog.
You’re a walking, talking contradiction and you doublespeak in just about every political segment you’ve ever done. You’ve never spoken publicly against gay rights, but I’ll bet you were against gay marriage before this happened and the Republicans just gave up on that lost battle. You’ve even spoken out against the rights of transpeople using the bathroom because “state’s rights” (slavery flashback) and pedophilia (?!). That argument is so off-base that I know you didn’t come up with that one yourself. You’re parroting someone. Who is it?
Your views are not your own, but those of the conservatives of your time.
Ever on the defensive, in an anti-feminist, anti-anti-racist speech for CPAC, Tomi insists that she won’t apologize for being white, despite that no one ever asked her to. The irony is that she’s angry at feminists and anti-racists for “playing the victim,” but that’s exactly what she does every time she gets on camera and shouts about how uncomfortable real talk is.
Tomi, please stop yelling. You don’t have to be a shill for the far right. You’re so defensive. Come up with your own thoughts, and what others think about you won’t matter so much to you anymore.
So back to my original question, why are you so angry, Tomi Lahren?
I think I know why. I think it’s easier for you to get mad at people who are mad about injustice rather than face said injustices head-on. You hope that by shouting at people who speak about these issues, these issues will magically go away, and it hasn’t been working. You also don’t want to acknowledge the uncomfortable truth that when you stop shouting far-right slogans, those you’ve spent all this time defending won’t have your back in return.
And if this isn’t why you’re so angry, then tell me what is, because honestly, you have nothing to turn red about.
Tomi, you’re a young, pretty girl with a big platform in a free nation. You have nothing but opportunities ahead and nothing to be angry about. The future is bright for you, and you can do your part to influence public discourse in a positive way if you stop shouting, start thinking, and take some time to formulate your own final thoughts.
“If you want to know where you would have stood on slavery before the Civil War, don’t look at where you stand on slavery today. Look at where you stand on animal rights.” — Captain Paul Watson