This week, Tomi Lahren came under fire after her appearance on The View in which she stated that she was pro-choice, and that constitutionalism/limited government and pro life beliefs contradicted one another. Conservatives were especially upset by the fact that in the recent past, she has called abortion murder and presented herself as pro-life, seemingly for the sole purpose of advancing her career.
Tomi is no stranger to criticism or backlash, and often feels it from both sides, as she has almost as many detractors on the right as she does the left. She rose to fame after a scathing rant against Obama, and while I’m not sure what her typical style was before that happened, she has since been consistent in her inflammatory, fiery demeanor. When she was first becoming popular, I’ll admit that I wasn’t impressed. She was articulate enough, but nothing she said struck me as particularly insightful or substantive. I’ll be honest – I don’t think that Tomi would have the audience she does if it weren’t for her looks – and there’s nothing wrong with that. We all have different assets and I’ll never knock anyone for taking advantage of their own (within reason). While I do think her looks play a major role in her success and fame, I won’t assume that she didn’t work hard as hell to get where she is, and respect her ambition.
As the months have gone on and Tomi has made increasingly outrageous statements, I’ve rolled my eyes on more than one occasion, and eventually I ended up muting her on Twitter. But as annoyed as I’ve been with Tomi, I’ve found myself equally – if not more – annoyed with the conservatives that lambast her like it’s their full time job. Don’t get me wrong; having generally aligned political beliefs doesn’t mean that people can’t criticize one another openly and freely. But I can only read so many think pieces and hot takes and melodramatic fake deep Twitter threads about the same person before I’m forced to ask myself about what motives people have besides simply expressing their opinions. And on more than one occasion it’s been painfully clear to me that conservatives have taken to tearing Tomi down as a means of building up their own careers, and in my opinion, it’s comparable if not worse than the political flip flopping that they’ve accused her of.
Following the outrage caused by the statement she made on the view, The Blaze suspended her. Some have speculated that her suspension was simply a result of her pro-choice views while others have suggested that she was suspended because she has contradicted herself on multiple occasions, undercutting the credibility of The Blaze and conservatism as a whole. Considering the fact that her suspension didn’t come until several days after the initial comments were made, im led to believe that the comments were a result of neither, but instead of the reaction. I am a full proponent of a private entity’s right to operate as they see fit, but I’m somewhat disappointed in the right for adopting the pitchfork mentality that has characterized the left for so long.
As a young black conservative woman, I’m all too aware of the realities of groupthink. And while I’m not trying to justify Tomi’s actions, it’s not hard to imagine what kind of pressure a wildly successful 24 year old faced to stay on script on one of the hottest button issues in politics. Every single one of the republican presidential candidates took a pro life stance, and knew damn well they’d never win the ticket otherwise.
Speaking of the 2016 election – from the primaries all the way up to Election Day – there were constant conversations about the “party we wanted to be” and who we did and didn’t have room for. Many conservatives insist that we don’t have room in the party for Tomi for a variety of reasons, and many of them raise valid points.
But at the end of the day, no matter how flawed or annoying she may be, Tomi is allowed to think what she wants. She’s allowed to do what she sees fit for her own personal gain, and we’re allowed to form and voice our own opinions. What I’d argue that we should steer clear from, though, is forcing anyone out of the movement over lapses in judgment that don’t actually hurt anyone else.
If we’re being real, every major 2016 candidate for president said and did things for political expedience. While we called them out for it, and while we should continue to do so, we didn’t exile them.
At times, Tomi honestly does embarrass me.But being a big tent means disagreeing with one another. It means disliking one another. It also means accepting people as they imperfect creatures they are.
Maybe Tomi cracked under pressure. Maybe all she saw were dollar signs. But no matter her motives, we should be able to agree that conservatism is not “one size fits all”.