It’s an unending cycle today, now that the general public has the same access to soapboxes as their celebrity counterparts. And it’s always the same: Celebrity says something that upsets others. Others clap back. Celebrity loses endorsement or gig. Celebrity decries “cancel-culture” and the supposed infringement upon their “First Amendment rights.” Rinse and repeat.
Frankly, I’m at a loss as to why we keep having to remind people: The freedom of speech you cling to is the same freedom of speech others use to clap back at what you said. That’s literally how it works. That also has nothing to do with your employment. In a country that so highly values the rights of an employer to terminate at will, it should come as no surprise to anyone when they exercise them (If that’s a problem for you, maybe it’s time to revisit what actually constitutes workers’ rights?).
In Gina Carano’s case, it’s pretty clear that she had a contract with Disney, she violated the terms of that contract by shining a negative light on the brand, and they cut bait. Cut and dry. At no time were her First Amendment rights infringed upon. She wasn’t arrested for saying what she did. The government interfered with her social media rants not one iota.
But because the Right is deep into their feelings on this one, they’ve become predictably myopic when it comes to that particular Instagram post — the last bit of cheese that triggered the mouse’s trap, if you will.
Here was the statement in question:
“Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?”
Disney subsidiary Lucasfilm, who employed Carano released this statement upon the termination of their relationship: “Gina Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm and there are no plans for her to be in the future. Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable.”
The Right seized upon Carano’s above Instagram post as their sacred cow and are demanding to know what about that statement is so abhorrent, especially in light of comparisons to Nazi Germany that have circled around the GOP’s infiltration by far right and fascist ideologies over the last several years. The uneducated stance is a claim that the statement is “true.”
I am a Jew. On my mother’s side of the family, who came from Budapest, her father was one of 8 children. Her mother was one of 11. After the Holocaust, there were a total of 8 between the both of them. Both sets of my mother’s grandparents were also murdered. On my father’s side, his great-grandparents and nearly an entire generation of their siblings and parents were murdered in the Pogroms in Russia.
It doesn’t matter whether or not we denounce the religious side of my cultural identity. History has proven time and time again that to those who hate me, I am a Jew. I will always be a Jew, and nothing I say will change that. I’m a Jew to them more than I am an American. It’s genetic.
So, bearing that in mind, let’s look again at this statement and break it apart:
1) “Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors – even by children. Because history is edited, most people today don’t realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews…” This is a problematic opening, because it lacks context around why she suggests there’s editing happening here, and treads dangerously close to the same arguments used by Holocaust deniers. Of course Nazi soldiers beat Jews in the streets. That’s been documented plenty. This immediately calls into question the rest of the statement she’s about to make. And on what basis is the claim what’s being said has been “edited?” And by who? Clearly, this is a gross hot-take we’re being treated to by someone without the historical perspective to understand what they’re even saying.
2) “…the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews.” This, while exceptionally reductive, is mostly accurate. However, it leaves out the methodology, which is an extremely important narrative when it comes to the Holocaust. The “how” is as important in this situation as the “what.” This example (which I cover in greater depth in a previous column) is far worse than the general hyperbole bandied about these days when decrying the acts of the GOP.
3) “…How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?” This is where the statement completely collapses into a terribly insensitive analogy that, for survivors and their children and grandchildren, most certainly is abhorrent. For one, people aren’t hated for their political views in the U.S. The acrimony is because of their actions. What people think and believe is up to them. What they say and do is what drives the conflict in our political discourse.
In this case, the context is based on backlash she’s received over previous statements about nonexistent voter fraud, about her agreements with anti-BLM rhetoric, about people who are wearing masks, and about her problems with trans people. Because she was held accountable for those statements and didn’t appreciate that clap back, she redirected the conversation into a victimhood identity. This, in and of itself, is regrettable behavior on her part.
Put simply, Carano said things that angered a lot of people and they took to twitter and let her have it. No one asked her to take her beliefs to the streets and to use her bully pulpit to do so. She did that on her own. Moreso, it’s something she professed a responsibility to have done — one of her posts quoted author T.B. Laberge: “If you are silent about your beliefs because you are worried someone will be offended, then your beliefs are not that important to you but rather what people think about you is, What people see about you will speak more loudly than how people feel about you, because in the end, when we stand up for what is right and true, we will have many who hate us or love us but all will know what we are fighting for.” There is a bit of irony in this in that Leberge is a supporter of BLM and vocally opposed to the direction the GOP took the nation over the last 5 years.
Ultimately, of course Carano has that right and the freedom to say what she wants. But so does EVERY OTHER AMERICAN, and a lot of them think her statements were trash. C’est la vie, Gina. Walk it off.
But then she trots out this particular Holocaust analogy, and her victimhood identity crosses a very particular line for people with any actual understanding of what happened that led up to and through the Holocaust. Because there wasn’t a single Jew killed for anything other than the blood coursing through his or her veins. It wasn’t what they said. It wasn’t how they dressed. It wasn’t who they worshipped or how they prayed. Plenty tried to hide all of that. It was because of something they had absolutely zero power to change.
That, my friends, is why so many agreed with Lucasfilm’s take — that Carano’s very public commentary was abhorrent.
And that’s the hill upon which Carano chose to sacrifice her career.
EPILOGUE: After all this mess, Deadline.com reports that conservative website — and home of conservative pundit Ben Shapiro — The Daily Wire has inked a deal with Carano to produce and star in her own as-yet-unnamed project, to be released to its subscription-only audience, which numbers around 300,000 people, according to Deadline. If 100% of the subscriber base watches it, it’ll be around 5% of the Mandalorian’s viewership.