Disclaimer: I was not offended by Richard Armitage’s interview. His political views are exactly what I would expect from most Brits. And this post is in response to the numerous questions I’ve received about why? why? why? are some people offended?
I’ve had quite a few notes from people asking me what specifically were the problems others had with Richard Armitage’s most recent interview. Further, the gist of what I’m getting from those who don’t understand why some became offended is they see that all he did was express his political views and how can that be offensive to anyone?
This post is an attempt to convey what was offensive to some, and please note these assessments below are mostly an amalgam of what has been said to me privately. Also, no one who has contacted me to express their negative opinion about Richard’s interview was offended by his having views. In fact, all of them have said they respect his right to express his views, but respecting his right to speak does not mean agreeing with the views nor being blind to what they saw as “his painting us with a broad negative brush.” By ‘us’ it was meant those who consider themselves Republicans.
From the article:
“I’ve only just returned yesterday, so I haven’t had a chance to enjoy it yet, but it is something I’m prepared to enjoy. I do feel saddened that it is thus, and also that the Republicans are trying to destabilize Obamacare–I think that’s a real shame. I think it’s something to really fight for and I don’t know why they’re doing it, really. But then I come from England where we’ve had a national health service since the Second World War and I think it’s so important. I take it for granted.”
Roughly half the country is Republican, and Richard called them by name and thereby made this personally against them with remarks strongly implying they are just trying to make trouble and don’t really think health care for people is important or want to fight for what’s right and helpful. It seems Republican readers found it hard to conclude much else from his quote in the above paragraph.
More from the article:
With half of the government throwing a temper tantrum over the Affordable Care Act, it seemed unlikely that the US would ever have national health care to take for granted. From the moment Republicans won the House in 2010 they’d been pushing farther and farther to the right, trying to rescind everything from voting to women’s rights–often in the name of religion.
“I think it gets very, very complicated when religion and politics get tangled up together,” Richard acknowledged, nodding, “And I know for sure in England we do try to keep religion and politics very, very separate. I think it’s important when you’re campaigning on personalities that those personalities–for example, the President of the United States–has a faith. I think that’s important in terms of their character, but when it gets entwined into politics I think it gets very, very complicated. And it doesn’t function well.”
True enough, especially for the US. “You can’t [have religion in politics] because you’re talking about a multi-faith society.And that’s what the whole of the Constitution is built on–those differences.”
In fairness, it appears the reporter and not Richard characterizes the Republicans as spoiled children in the first paragraph. Richard’s comments about separation of religion from government were not offensive as most who contacted me agree, but the placement of his remarks behind the reporter’s make it look as if he could be throwing in with her stereotyping of Republicans as religious controllers.
The UK has never had their government simply close in quite the same way as ours did, which Richard attributed to debate. “We elect a government, I mean, I don’t vote in the US but you elect a government to solve the differences. As much as we in England were opposed to a coalition government, or surprised by it, or shocked by it, in a way it sort of is functioning rather beautifully. There just is always debate, but there’s always a decision,“ Then Richard paused and his eyes widened, almost apologetically. “Oh God, how’ve we got onto politics? I’m an actor, nobody cares about what my politics are.”
I assured him that Moves Magazine cared about his politics and we considered the UK too civilized to have their own government follow American practice in shutting down. “You’d think that,” he said, “but you look at what happened with the Poll Tax riots back in the ‘80s …the closer it gets to our home, the closer it gets to the pound that’s in your pocket, the more uncivilized we become as a nation.”
Most who contacted me appreciated his attempt at humility and thought his comments in the second paragraph were trying to make a concession that any nation can be uncivilized and the UK is not immune either.
As for the comments on gun control, most didn’t take that personally even if they disagreed with him, and many agreed there is too much violence in entertainment.
But what was most commented on about the article was its contradictory stance of praising debate while making statements which essentially thwart it — namely stereotyping and somewhat demonizing one party in the U.S. As one person put it to me, “It’s hard to discuss something with someone who has decided you are insensitive or selfish or both and keeps throwing it in your face.”
My take on the contradictory stance is it’s certainly present. It’s also true that some people from both parties do this. Keyword there is ‘some’ since there are some reasonable people in both parties as well as the hate mongering people found in both parties.
So the Earth did not move. Nor did the world come to an end. :D But for Richard Armitage, if he had talked about being for nationalized health care, gun control, etc. and explained why without making things personal, I don’t think there would have been much offense taken if any.
My hope is if he keeps expressing political views, that he does so without targeting a group. Having watched him now for several years, I want to think he did it inadvertently because he didn’t realize referring to Republicans was not limited to politicians.
I still say you were drunk. :D
A crazy fan
I ask one thing from those of you who have similar views to Richard. Please put yourself in the shoes of those who felt he was in some ways denigrating them. Replace the word Republican with the word Democrat and change the issues Richard is supporting to something you don’t support and see if you would still feel so magnanimous.
Further notes from Frenz. I have now read quite a few articles at NY Moves and enjoyed them, but it’s hard not to see that this site needs work of the technical kind. I looked at it under the covers, and there is so much they could be doing to help themselves. I would love to get hold of it, but of course don’t think they would want my help after my criticism and parody of them. LOL! Whatever my stance on the RA article, it’s a shame an outfit like this does not have a better site.
Last note: new tag ‘not that Richard’