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Ellen DeGeneres and George W. Bush were photographed together talking and laughing at a recent Dallas Cowboys football game. The photo received immediate, negative attention toward DeGeneres and her friendship choices. 

DeGeneres brought the situation to her talk show. In the segment, she defended herself and her friendship with the former president. She stressed the importance of being kind to everyone no matter their political views. 

With the current divide in our country,  I am glad someone of her power and influence brought this topic to the public’s attention. I think DeGeneres did the right thing in shedding light on the current situation of the political climate and how we treat each other. 

There are so many people in this country that believe political views have more value than character and morals of a person. A political view is only a small part of what defines a person. 

I did not find out the political stance of most of my friends until later, and when I did nothing about our friendship changed. Although I am not friends with a former president, I think the same rule applies. 

DeGeneres stressed this fact on her show about her friendship with Bush. She said she does not choose her friends based on how they vote. I commend her for stating this fact because people often forget. 

Despite all of this, DeGeneres has received heavy backlash for her speech on respect and kindness. Celebrities like Mark Ruffalo said he could not commend DeGeneres because of the controversy surrounding Bush during his presidency. 

I understand why some people are upset with DeGeneres and her choices. However, I believe it was just a picture taken at a football game. The picture didn’t capture the whole friendship, and I’m sure it does not go much deeper than that photograph. 

The picture was taken at just the right time, making it seem like something more was going on. DeGeneres saw the criticism she was receiving from the photo and had to take action to explain herself. Instead of putting a negative spin on it, as she easily could have, she used it to spread a positive message. 

I still think the message she shared had significant value and was commendable. We should respect one another no matter what our political views are. Someone can have a different political view and still be a good person, so that shouldn’t stop you from being their friend. 

Just because people are different from you doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with them. At the end of the day, you get to choose your own friends. Just because DeGeneres is friends with someone you don’t like doesn’t mean you have to, so it shouldn’t matter. 

Shelby Bordes is a 20-year-old mass communication junior from Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

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