Tomi or not Tomi
If they aren’t shithole countries, why don’t their citizens stay there? Let’s be honest. Call it like it is. — Fox News contributor Tomi Lehren
Wow — even President Trump and his amen chorus denied or dissembled that he called poor countries “shitholes,” leaving Tomi hanging out there, alone in the cold.
By far, I’m no Shakespearean scholar. But from what I remember from undergrad literature courses (not so much), the preternaturally smug, self-assured and self-righteous alt-right darling might learn a bit about humility from a few choice passages from Hamlet:
Of entrance to a quarrel; but, being in,
Bear’t that the opposed may beware of thee.
Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice:
Take each man’s censure, but reserve thy judgment.
Yes, in this passage, King Claudius’ “chief counselor” Polonius (kind of like Steve Bannon used to be for Trump) was giving Hamlet a bunch of throw-pillow bromides.
Nevertheless, Tomi, when as a media star you’re inspired to trash people in the mainstream media who have pooped more hard-earned knowledge, experience and expertise than you might ever have the privilege and humility to consume, best you listen more, think twice, reflect a bit, and spout less with certainty.
You’re facile, preach well to the choir, and leverage your camera-friendliness effectively. But your Final Thoughts prove, seemingly with pride, that you don’t know what you don’t know.
Let’s be honest and call it like it is: When it comes to the big world that you’ve never seen nor experienced, you don’t know shit from Shinola. (Old phrase; look it up.)
Marcellus: Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.
Horatio: Heaven will direct it.
Tomi, this means that a leader’s behavior — in Hamlet’s case, the cunning, manipulative, charming yet immoral Claudius, who valued power and material things above all — can undermine the health of the state as a whole. But God will set things right.
Lesson: Avoid sucking up to a rotting regime.
Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel;
But do not dull thy palm with entertainment
Of each new-hatch’d, unfledg’d comrade.
Sorry, Tomi, Fox and its broader audience aren’t really your friends. Sure, graduating from the alt-right fake news abyss where Alex Jones and ilk spin their paranoid manipulations feels legitimizing and brings fans, followers and better dough.
But if you stop serving as the emperor’s tailor they’ll toss you faster than you can say “Steve Banned.”
Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother’s death the memory be green…yet so far hath discretion fought with nature that we with wisest sorrow think on him together with remembrance of ourselves.
As Brian Welch on Prezi notes, Hamlet was a play about hypocrisy: “Claudius’ hypocritical eulogy for his brother, Hamlet’s feigned madness, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern’s false friendship, Hamlet’s plot against Claudius, Claudius’ plot to have Hamlet’s death look like an accident, etc. In the end, the main characters all drop their acts and finally face each other with the truth.” And of course, it all ended badly.
Tomi, you once trashed Obamacare then admitted you were still on your parents’ Obamacare. Maybe as a Fox contributor, 21st Century Fox has you covered with a gold-plated healthcare plan that jus’ plain folks you pretend to speak for could only hope to count on. Especially after the president you toady to kicked the legs out from under the Affordable Care Act, threw a monkey wrench into the health insurance market, and drove up rates for middle-class families.
Shakespeare might suggest you mind the hypocrisy, Tomi. “Forebear to judge,” he wrote, “for we are sinners all.”
To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.
Given your popularity, platform and potential, Tomi, the relevant existential question is not Hamlet’s —messed-up life or ignoble death — but who do you want Tomi to be?
Should Tomi, the brand, be a shallow political entertainer/snarkcateur, a flash in the pan, a one-hit wonder, a where-are-they-now, a Pauly Shore, Arsenio Hall, Rick Dees, Dexy’s Midnight Runners? Another Ann Coulter, a parody of bitter punditry? Should Tomi also hitch her wagon to an uncertain, inconstant star seemingly destined to implode, explode or best case, fizzle in infamy?
Or should Tomi try to be a respected conservative commentator with thoughtful, reasonable and constructive views that elevate public discussion and the commonweal — and challenge authority when authority needs challenging, as our democracy demands — like a David Brooks, George Will, Peggy Noonan, Mary Matalin or Michael Gerson?
Tomi, you have a platform that great commentators, people who’ve advanced great ideas, our higher ideals and our republic, never did at age 25.
At your age, George Will was working toward his master’s degree and doctorate in politics after studying politics, philosophy and economics at Oxford. He went on to be an editor at National Review and a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post Writer’s Group. At 25, he wasn’t sharing his barely formed “Final Thoughts” on national television.
What will you do with your incredible blessing, Tomi? Call poor countries “shitholes”? Or use your voice to make the world better? That is the question.
Jeffrey Denny is a Washington writer.