It was President Donald Trump and his supporters who anointed Roseanne Barr the spokeswoman for their movement.
And she’s perfect for the job.
When the comedian’s show rebooted earlier this season, it served as an opportunity to push back against the “basket of deplorables” narrative that Trump supporters are racists. The show pictured the Conners, the same lower-middle class family it had up until the 1997 end of its first run. The idea was that the couple at the head of the family were, like so many Americans who support Trump, misunderstood and unfairly labeled. These folks, we were told, were old-fashioned but not mean, set in their ways but not hateful.
In the new show, Roseanne and her TV husband, Dan, played by John Goodman, were alternately befuddled and furious at a society that had passed them by, and politicians and elites who didn’t know anyone like them, or want to. Their kids and grandkids, and Roseanne’s sister, Jackie, often disagreed but sometimes didn’t care — too wrapped up in day-to-day survival to worry about politics.
The show was a hit. Trump called to congratulate Barr. ABC ordered a second season.
And then Roseanne tweeted that Valerie Jarrett, a close friend of President Barack Obama and one of his most trusted advisers, is the human that would have been born if “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby.”
And then she tried to dam the outpouring of disgust and revulsion, tweeting, “I apologize to Valerie Jarrett and to all Americans. I am truly sorry for making a bad joke about her politics and her looks. I should have known better. Forgive me — my joke was in bad taste.”
And then she quit Twitter.
And then her show was canceled.
And then the agency that represents her dropped her.
Because Roseanne Barr, the chosen avatar of the movement that elected Trump president, finally completed her flawless job of representing that movement.
We are told that it’s possible to support Trump without being a racist. The idea is that people who believe Trump will improve the economy, fix trade imbalances or make health care affordable see him as a lone voice on their side against a political establishment that has betrayed them. That’s a legitimate point of view.
But those kinds of policy concerns are different from the culture wars the “Roseanne” reboot profited from. And the people on the side of those culture wars clinging to their vanished America are hateful bigots. What they miss is a time when that was OK.
Last summer, Trump called marchers in Charlottesville, Virginia, brandishing torches and the flags of two of this nation’s greatest foes, Nazi Germany and the Confederacy, “very fine people.” He called black NFL players quietly kneeling during the national anthem to protest racism and police violence “sons of bitches.”
That combination of reactions is racist. And the fact that many people who agree with Trump like to preface their comments on social issues with, “I’m not a racist, but . . .” or follow their bigoted comments with, “I’m sorry you didn’t get my joke,” doesn’t change that.
When you say you hate the way the mainstream media and liberal Hollywood always take up for minorities, gay people or women, that shows your bigotry toward minorities and gay people and women. When you don’t repudiate Trump for his attacks on black people, disabled people, women or Mexican-Americans, that communicates that you agree with those attacks.
Roseanne is just like many of our friends and family members who stand with Trump, just as she was advertised to be.
Supporting Trump doesn’t make her a bigot. Her bigotry does.
Lane Filler is a member of Newsday’s editorial board.