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Joan E. Dowlin

Joan E. Dowlin

Posted: April 9, 2010 12:08 PM

Debunking American Stereotypes

What's Your Reaction:

I recently saw the "Ellen DeGeneres Show" in which she showed a clip from The Family Feud. The category was "something every one knows about Ellen DeGeneres." The Sutton family did well answering "she's gay, is married to Portia, has her own talk show, loves to dance, is a funny actress", until the family patriarch, Mike said "I would say that she doesn't like our country very well." The crowd gasped.

Ellen was very gracious when replaying the clip on her show saying "Dish Network, if you could update the listings to say Ellen DeGeneres loves America, that would be wonderful. And other countries. Actually I love the planet, just include everyone there." Ellen's mother was in the audience and obviously as perplexed as everyone over Mike's answer. Ellen then in her DeGenerous way invited the family to come on her show to play a segment she calls "Know or Go."

I would love to see the bottom drop out from Mike which is what happens when the wrong answer is given in Ellen's game show parody. I must admit my first reaction to this Family Feud clip was one of anger. How could anyone be so clueless as to accuse Ellen of not liking her country? I remember in 2003 in the midst of the Iraq War, Ellen's show rewarded returning military men and their wives with free cruises. Does that sound unpatriotic to you, Mike? What have you done lately for your country?

Then I tried desperately to understand what made Mike think this of Ellen. All I could come up with is this warped line of thinking: Ellen is gay; gays are left wingers; left wingers hate America. My analysis could be wrong as I can't read Mike's mind. But, though Ellen has said on numerous occasions that she is not political and she has had both Obama and McCain on her show when they were candidates for President, Mike may feel she is radical because she married a woman.

Well, Mike if all gays are unpatriotic, why do so many want to serve openly in the military? Do the Log Cabin Republicans (a gay group) hate their country?

This is an example of stereotyping Americans. And Mike is not the only one doing this. It happens on both sides of the political spectrum. Tea Party members are accused of being "racists" because a small number of protestors yelled the "n-word" at some Representatives on their way to the Capitol to vote on the Health Care Reform Bill. I don't believe racism is the basis for this movement and most followers are concerned for the future of the country.

This mindless pigeon-holing has become quite annoying and only gotten worse with all of the petty partisanship and bickering going on in DC. The truth is that all people are multi-faceted. They may be conservative on some issues and liberal on others.

I, for example, am a gay, feminist Christian who is pro-life, anti-gun, anti-nukes, pro-environment (believes there is global warming), pro-health care reform, pro-tort reform, pro-fiscal restraint, pro-financial regulation, pro-immigration reform, and pro-green energy who loves her country and as Ellen has said loves the planet (and the Universe.) If this makes me a radical so be it. I like to think of myself as a work in progress.

I would hope this country loves me back and I hope someday I can be as gracious as Ellen is. We could all benefit by emulating her forgiving nature.