Both of the popular actors published posts on social media Tuesday supporting the beloved talk show host’s explanation as to why she was laughing it up with the former GOP president in a controversial photo taken at a Dallas Cowboys game over the weekend.
In response to the initial backlash, DeGeneres said on her show Tuesday that she and Bush “are friends,” noting that she’s “friends with a lot of people who don’t share the same beliefs that I have.”
Yes, that was me at the Cowboys game with George W. Bush over the weekend. Here’s the whole story. pic.twitter.com/AYiwY5gTIS
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) October 8, 2019
DeGeneres has long been a fierce advocate for LGBTQ rights, while Bush publicly opposed gay marriage and other rights for the queer community during his presidency.
Many also consider Bush to be a war criminal. In 2003, his administration began a war based on the false claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The war led to an estimated 250,000 civilian deaths in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, according to a 2018 Brown University study. More than 4,200 U.S. troops also died in the war, according to the Miller Center. The former president’s supposed “War on Terror” also cost the U.S. more than $5.6 trillion, according to Brown.
In recent years, the former president was instrumental in the confirmation of ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh — even in the midst of numerous sexual assault and harassment allegations against the judge.
“Just because I don’t agree with someone on everything doesn’t mean that I’m not going to be friends with them,” DeGeneres added. “When I say be kind to one another, I don’t mean only the people that think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone.”
It was apparently a message that both Witherspoon and Bell could sign off on.
Witherspoon wrote in a since-deleted Tuesday retweet of DeGeneres’ video:
Thank you for this important reminder, Ellen! “I have friends who don’t think the same things that i do. When I say be kind to one another , I don’t mean be kind to the people who think the same way you do . I mean ..Be Kind to Everyone. “ https://t.co/nPUMljZpUi
— Reese Witherspoon (@ReeseW) October 8, 2019
Bell shared a side-by-side photo of Bush and DeGeneres alongside the caption: “She’s my [queen!] ”
Soon after their posts were published, many people online criticized both Witherspoon and Bell for defending DeGeneres, calling their support a “privileged” way of looking at the circumstances. In the comments of Bell’s post people said they had “lost MAJOR respect” for the actor, adding that, “Tolerance of intolerance is complicity” and called the framing of DeGeneres’ defense “absurd.”
“An opinion that intentionally oppresses or harms another life? NOPE. NOPE. NOPE. You’re better than this,” one commenter wrote to Bell.
“I think you need a new queen,” wrote another.
Comments to Witherspoon on Twitter were also critical.
The privilege reaks. There are thousands of people in the middle east who don't get to be friends with people with "different views" because they're dead thanks to him.
And he spent his presidency trying to strip away LGBT rights, so nah. This monologue is pure class privilege.
— Sara I I I 🇵🇸 (@sarac93) October 9, 2019
I have to take issue with this, with all due respect. There's nothing wrong with being friends with people of different beliefs, but there IS something wrong with being friends with someone who has hurt you and your community without remorse or a change.
— Neil Pople (@NeilPople) October 8, 2019
Another Rich Elitist
— #GunnelsHasTheDammReceipts (@marthaelenabaez) October 9, 2019
Believing certain members of our society don’t deserve the same rights as the rest because of their gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation isn’t a difference of opinion, ladies. “Being kind” doesn’t mean we should smile politely while they work to take away our rights.
— Kristen (@mediaperuana) October 8, 2019
it is a privilege to be able to set aside the real life harm and oppression bc it does not affect you and befriend someone like that
— jhaunay-amanie (@wrightmywayout) October 8, 2019
I can be kind without being friends.
— Frenchie Phuketup Fuqua (@kimikoko73) October 9, 2019
this reeks of privilege. there are people who literally want the death of other people or at least the denial of their basic human rights. expecting marginalized communities to babysit bigots’ feelings, to "bE kInD" as tho we're disagreeing abt pineapple on pizza is so ignorant
— Chaima ✨ شيماء (@kzabrekker) October 9, 2019
This story has been updated to reflect the deletion of Witherspoon’s tweet.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.