In defense of Karamo Brown, and civility

In defense of Karamo Brown, and civility
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Melissa McCarthy said it best portraying Dancing with the Stars’ latest contestant, Sean SpicerSean Michael SpicerPress: It's time to bring back White House briefings Rapid turnover shapes Trump's government Pelosi gets under Trump's skin on impeachment MORE, as President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Saudi Arabia paid 0 million for cost of US troops in area Parnas claims ex-Trump attorney visited him in jail, asked him to sacrifice himself for president MORE’s Press Secretary on SNL, “I’m not here to be your buddy. I’m here to swallow gum and I’m here to take names.”

Add “take home the Mirrorball trophy” to the list of things Spicer wants — it was announced last week that he would be joining Season 28 of ABC’s long-running dancing competition show.

Spicer joins a long list of conservative media personalities and elected officials including, Jerry Springer, Tom Delay, Geraldo Rivera and current U.S. Secretary of Energy, Rick PerryRick PerryLev Parnas implicates Rick Perry, says Giuliani had him pressure Ukraine to announce Biden probe Energy Department agrees to begin releasing Ukraine-related records Trump indicates he'd block Bolton's testimony 'for the sake of the office' MORE.


But for whatever reason, Spicer’s casting announcement has created a firestorm of criticism directed at ABC from all corners, fueled even more by Mr. Trump’s tweet of support saying “he will do great. A terrific person who loves our Country dearly!”

The Daily Beast ran a headline, “Why Sean Spicer’s ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Casting Really Is That Pathetic.” Not to be outdone, Yahoo followed with, “Why Sean Spicer on Dancing with the Stars is so dangerous.”

A potential worldwide economic downturn is dangerous. The effects of rising seas and a warming planet are dangerous. Watching Sean Spicer Cha-Cha or Foxtrot on national television is funny, likely ridiculous, and possibly entertaining — a far cry from being dangerous.

In response to this frenzied response, Spicer’s new DWTS co-star Karamo Brown spoke up in defense of sharing the stage with the former White House Press Secretary, “People would look at us and think that we’re polar opposites, but I’m a big believer that if you can talk to someone and meet in the middle, you can learn about each other and help each other both grow.”

In the same interview, Brown, a star of Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” also said Spicer was a “good guy, really sweet guy.” The condemnation of Brown’s comments was nearly as swift, far-reaching and misguided as ABC’s initial public casting announcement. The online attacks on Brown even prompted him to recently delete his twitter account.


Let’s all take one nation-wide collective breath and keep things in perspective.

This past week marked one year since Senator John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMartha McSally fundraises off 'liberal hack' remark to CNN reporter Meghan McCain blasts NY Times: 'Everyone already knows how much you despise' conservative women GOP senator calls CNN reporter a 'liberal hack' when asked about Parnas materials MORE’s passing. To honor the late senator’s legacy, his wife, Cindy and children have launched a campaign to help restore civility to our political discourse. Writing in the Washington Post, Mrs. McCain said of her husband, “…John never sacrificed civility. He liked and respected most of his colleagues, however heated their debates could be. He was known for his bipartisan friendships.”

This country is sorely in need of the kind of civility John McCain embodied and the McCain family continues in his honor.

According to a recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, despite Americans’ overall approval of the U.S. economy, a clear majority (70 percent) are angry at the nation’s political establishment and believe the country is being divided on “ever-hardening partisan and generational lines.”

Americans are angry because we don’t understand one another. We often lack the collective understanding and compassion necessary for important conversations on policy, society and politics, especially.

When individuals dare to bridge political or societal differences, they shouldn’t be roundly criticized or driven from the public square — as in the case of Karamo Brown.

Indeed bridging differences is what Queer Eye has been all about, reaching across the divide between the five hosts and the individuals they meet along the way, helping them to transform their own lives and rebuilding confidence in themselves. It is clear that Brown was trying to demonstrate that same sense of compassion, acceptance and bridge building in his comments about Spicer.

That same sense of bridge building is what inspires me as an openly gay Democrat to appear regularly on Fox News providing commentary on politics, campaigns and current events. According to the American National Election Study, nearly 13 percent of Americans who voted for Donald Trump in 2016, cast their ballot for Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaNew Hampshire Rep. Kuster endorses Buttigieg Overnight Defense: Foreign policy takes center stage at Democratic debate | House delivers impeachment articles to Senate | Dems vow to force new vote on Trump's border wall Ray LaHood backs Biden for president MORE just four years earlier.

Before deleting his account, Brown tweeted, “But I’ll tell you this… I’m excited to sit down w/ [Spicer] and engage in respectful conversations... Only way things get better is if we try to educate those who have different POV than us.”

Speaking from experience, I really hope they both get the chance.

Kevin Walling (@kpwalling) is a Democratic strategist, Vice President at HGCreative, co-founder of Celtic Strategies, and a regular guest on Fox News and Fox Business.