In the face of an unprecedented Presidency that wallows in the gutter with ugly, hateful, racist and ignorant words, and more importantly, policies, the response by comedians and other public figures should reflect the words of Michelle Obama. When they go low, we go high.
This is not to say we should equate Robert DeNiro's Trump comments on the Tony Awards last night, or Samantha Bee's description of Ivanka Trump with the obscenity and vileness of a President and administration which promote policies that demonize Muslims, minorities and immigrants. But responding at the same low level, is offensive to me as a comedian who shares the outrage and passion of DeNiro and Bee, but chooses to express those sentiments in a smart, articulate and humorous way.
Trump and his cohorts act like thugs, are mean, and have no capacity for empathy. Why mirror that low brow and ugly behavior? DeNiro's outburst was the only ugly part of a three hour show that celebrated the beauty of theater as well as tolerance, understanding and diversity. The messages of the nominated shows, and the words of the winners, beautifully and effectively provided a sharp, passionate and intelligent response to the hatred and racism of Trump's policies. And the ten awards presented to "The Band's Visit" was a testament to the artistry of its creators and actors, but also a plea for coexistence between Israelis and Arabs.
When Samantha Bee unleashed her crude and unfunny description of Ivanka Trump, it drew all of the attention away from what immediately preceded it. A powerful and insightful rant about the horrific separation of children from their families at the border. So using the "c" word, whatever we think of that word, became the story instead of Trump's obscene immigration policy.
The value of going high when they go low isn't just rooted in principles and values, it's also the most effective way to respond to the catastrophic situation our country has been in since Trump became President. When President Obama took down Trump and his racist birther attacks at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2011, he did it with clever, witty, deadpan humor, with no hate or off color language.
The angry voices on the Right label those of us with progressive beliefs as "elitists" who think we're better than they are. When it comes to going after those with racist, hateful and ignorant views, we are better than they are. And the words we use when we respond to them should also be better, smarter, and funnier than they are. Without any of their ugliness and hate.