CAIR Michigan praises 'Roseanne' cancellation

Louis Aguilar
The Detroit News
Roseanne Barr

The Michigan leader of a Muslim civil rights group praised ABC for swiftly canceling Roseanne Barr's revived series Tuesday but said her racist tweet against a former Obama administration official illustrates how hateful conspiracy theories are going mainstream.

Barr's show "Roseanne," a surprise hit, was dropped in the uproar over her tweet that called Valerie Jarrett a product of the Muslim Brotherhood and the “Planet of the Apes.”

"There are some people who are aligned with (President) Donald Trump who feel emboldened to speak out publicly against (former President Barack) Obama and those high up in his administration," said Dawud Walid, executive director of The Council on American-Islamic Relations Michigan Chapter. CAIR Michigan is part of America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization.

CAIR recently released its 2018 civil rights report, "Targeted," showing a 17 percent increase in bias-motivated incidents against American Muslims from 2016 to 2017, and a 15 percent increase in the number of anti-Muslim hate crimes in that same period.

CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid

Barr's tweets are the latest example of how false conspiracy theories continue to spread, Walid said. The celebrity is an supporter of Trump. 

Barr went on a Twitter rant starting Monday night, first spreading the false rumor that Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Hillary and Bill Clinton, is married to the nephew of billionaire liberal Democratic donor George Soros, who is a lightning rod for conservative conspiracy theorists. Barr later in the day falsely claimed Soros was a Nazi. 

Barr's comments about Chelsea Clinton and George Soros were retweeted by Donald Trump Jr. 

Barr then sent out a tweet that identified Jarrett, a former aide to Obama, by her initials: “muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj." Jarrett, an African-American, was born in Iran to American parents.

ABC executives reacted quickly Tuesday.  “Roseanne’s Twitter statement is abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values, and we have decided to cancel her show,” ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey said in a statement.

Some conservatives also said Barr crossed a line. A National Review senior writer, David French, wrote Tuesday that "ABC shouldn’t have brought her back," pointing out Barr had often espoused conspiracy theories online.

 "She was, quite obviously, one of the more toxic and troubled personalities in American public life," French wrote. This was a woman who, after all, trafficked in grotesque conspiracy theories, said that anyone who eats at Chick-fil-A 'deserves to get the cancer that’s sure to come,' and defiled the National Anthem more thoroughly than a thousand kneeling football players."

The national headquarters of CAIR praised ABC's response. "We welcome the swift and appropriate action taken by ABC and hope it sends a message that the promotion of hatred and bigotry will not be accepted by our nation’s entertainment industry,” said CAIR National Executive Director Nihad Awad, in a written statement. 

Last month, CAIR's Michigan chapter spoke out against a Warren city official, Diane Toni Deliso Kozlowski,  who posted anti-Muslim comments online. Deliso Kozlowski, a member of the city's Elected Officials Compensation Commission, resigned. 

"Some people feel emboldened to be nonsensical these days," Walid said.