Bill O’Reilly got it wrong – in more ways than one. First off, Maxine Waters’ hair doesn’t look like James Brown’s; James Brown’s hair looks (looked) like Maxine Waters’. Congresswoman Waters, a 78-year-old woman, sports a stylish, attractive and wholly appropriate ‘do. She looks sharp and professional – and, frankly, damn good for someone knocking on 80’s door – no matter how vehemently I disagree with 99.9% of what she says. James Brown, for reasons unknown, elected in his later years to sport a decidedly feminine coiffure. Presumably, he found it pleasing, and that’s what ultimately matters. But to assert that Waters’ look is derivative of Brown’s implies there’s something amiss with her look. And I can’t see how there is.
Which makes O’Reilly’s “joke” during his appearance yesterday on Fox & Friends particularly dumb. I get it – I understand how he got from Point A to Point B, but that doesn’t make it accurate or right. Waters gives us plenty of material to address. Honestly, her appearance is about the last basis on which one might find a foothold for attack. So O’Reilly’s wisecrack, in addition to resting on a faulty premise, serves the unfortunate purpose of deflecting from legitimate criticism of her comments. Not to mention stirring up the Social Media Outrage Brigade (SMOB™).
Accusations of sexism and racism have flown fast and furious. In O’Reilly’s defense, some have pointed to the never ending barrage of insults regarding Donald Trump’s hair. Fair point. Is men’s appearance fair game, while women’s is not? That seems rather double-standardy, doesn’t it? Isn’t that in and of itself sexist? Others have pointed to Patrick Stewart’s playing at being “twinsies” with Kellyanne Conway as evidence that the line apparently doesn’t fall between the sexes. Why is Conway fair game, while Waters is not? Is it race then? Is that where the line is drawn? Well, no, wait a second. If that were the case, then pot shots at Condoleezza Rice ought to have been off limits. Newsflash: They weren’t. At least not by many who’d claim they are as to Maxine Waters.
So what, really, is the dividing line? Seems pretty clear it’s ideology: When the person in question shares your views, they’re off-limits, and any insult regarding their looks is grounds for firing and banishment from polite society. When the person in question doesn’t share your views, they’re fair game, and insults regarding their looks are just jokes – lighten up, Francis.
I propose another dividing line: How ‘bout if we leave out appearance altogether? What if we were to focus our critiques on others’ comments and actions, rather than directing scorn at their personal attributes? We’re called to love one another. Sadly, we suck at this. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. It helps to remember we’re all made in God’s image. By that standard, there’s no such thing as a bad hair ‘do or day. I know – that’s a lot to process. But think of all the energy we could channel into constructive pursuits if we weren’t so consumed with broadcasting our outrage at every little slight directed at our political comrades (and defending every little slight authored by them.) In short, maybe we should stop being petty – try being nice…like sugar and spice.