Feminists Shouldn't Celebrate Tomi Lahren's Reported Firing

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At 24, Tomi Lahren is already one of the most recognizable — and controversial — names in cable news. She only became more of a lightning rod when her employer, entertainment network The Blaze, permanently suspended Lahren, one of its biggest stars, apparently for pro-choice comments she made during a recent appearance on The View. "I'm someone that is for limited government, so I can't sit here and be a hypocrite and say I'm for limited government, but I think that the government should decide what women do with their bodies," she told The View hosts earlier this month. (Somewhat confusingly, in the past, Lahren has seemed to be anti-choice, referring to abortion as "murder" in a December episode of her show.)

Lahren was initially suspended almost immediately after making the comments. She is now "banned permanently," according to a New York Post report that has been cited in multiple outlets. To some liberals and progressives, this suspension is a welcome fall from grace. Erin White at Afropunk called Lahren "an ignorant hate monger and racist-for-pay." The Daily Beast's Amy Zimmerman wrote a piece called "Tomi Lahren is Terrible. Period."

In a recent viral WordPress article, "Why self-identifying feminists need to care about Tomi Lahren's unfair treatment by mainstream media," the author, who goes by alwaysinagoldenstateofmind, gloated about Lahren's suspension:

Just kidding. I don’t give a f--k. That b---h got what she deserved. I hope I never see her loud, hateful ass on my feed ever again. Go have a seat with fellow snowflake Milo Yanninazipolos [sic]. Also, anything that you read in the caption to get you to read this article is complete bullsh-t.

Look, I certainly disagree with Lahren on many issues, particularly her characterization of Black Lives Matter and her thoughts on immigration. (Lahren referred to Black Lives Matter as "the new KKK.")

But I do think that "self-identified feminists" should care about what happened to Lahren.

Her comments are a reminder that people are different from the parties that claim to represent them, which means that common ground may exist in unexpected places.

Sure, it's significant and even somewhat amusing that The Blaze, a network known for its advocacy for "free speech," apparently chose to ban one of its most successful pundits because she has uncomfortable opinions — who's the special snowflake now? But it's even more important to talk about why Lahren's apparent pro-choice beliefs matter.

Her comments are a reminder that people are different from the parties that claim to represent them, which means that common ground may exist in unexpected places.

With the issue of reproductive choice, for example, it's important to build as large a coalition as possible. Nearly half of Trump voters actually support Planned Parenthood, according to a Politico/Harvard survey, which means that Trump's own base can be used to help persuade the president (and congressional Republicans) that defunding Planned Parenthood goes against the explicit wishes of Democratic and Republican voters alike.

This isn't the same thing as successfully persuading Lahren (and, more importantly, her 4.2-million-strong Facebook fanbase) that her previous comments about Syrian immigrants (that they "run away" while Americans "stand and fight") are insulting and naive.

But it's a start.

Lahren's pro-choice comments should be seen as a jumping-off point for a progressive dialogue with Lahren and her supporters. If progressives find Lahren's previous comments about various issues as distasteful and offensive as they claim to, constructing an impartial argument against them should be easy.

Moreover, progressives who are uninterested in engaging with Lahren herself would do well to remember the millions of people (and voters) who subscribe to her Facebook and Twitter pages — who, in all likelihood, also subscribe to many of her beliefs. If you don't care about changing Lahren's mind, you should care about changing theirs. We've already seen this strategy succeed. The Daily Show's Trevor Noah and radio host Charlamagne tha God have both engaged with Lahren directly after she compared Black Lives Matter to the KKK.

"I'm talking to Tomi because I care about the rhetoric that comes out of her mouth, because she has influence." Charlamagne tha God said on his radio show in response to criticism. "I don't like talking about people, I like talking to them," he said. "Do you want diplomacy or do you want division?"

I would wager that more Lahren fans changed their minds about Black Lives Matter because of Charlamagne tha God and Noah's reasoned and logical defense of the movement than because of impassioned vitriol sent to them from an anonymous stranger on Twitter.

There's a significant opportunity here to start a dialogue with moderate conservatives whose votes could make the difference in 2018 or 2020. I believe that to squander the opportunity to work with an unconventional ally, especially one with great influence, would be a significant mistake.