In defense of Karamo Brown, and civility

In defense of Karamo Brown, and civility
© Getty Images

Melissa McCarthy said it best portraying Dancing with the Stars’ latest contestant, Sean SpicerSean Michael SpicerWhite House condemns violent video Trump calls for votes for Spicer on 'Dancing With The Stars' Ex-Trump officials met with Zelensky campaign aides at Trump hotel earlier this year: report MORE, as President Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP congressman slams Trump over report that U.S. bombed former anti-ISIS coalition headquarters US to restore 'targeted assistance' to Central American countries after migration deal Trump says lawmakers should censure Schiff 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 PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryOvernight Energy: Farmers say EPA reneged on ethanol deal | EPA scrubs senators' quotes from controversial ethanol announcement | Perry unsure if he'll comply with subpoena | John Kerry criticizes lack of climate talk at debate Rick Perry doesn't know if he'll comply with congressional subpoena Mulvaney helped organize controversial Ukraine meeting 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 McCainLawmakers toast Greta Van Susteren's new show Meghan McCain: It's 'breaking my heart' Warren is leading Biden in the polls The Hill's 12:30 Report: Video depicting Trump killing media, critics draws backlash 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 ObamaButtigieg tweeted support for 'Medicare for All' in 2018 Brent Budowsky: To Bush and Obama — speak out on Trump Graham on Syria: Trump appears 'hell-bent' on repeating Obama's mistakes in Iraq 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.