After many hours of hard work, I've put together an exhaustive list of the prominent celebrities who chose not to perform at President Obama's inaugural ceremonies in 2009 and 2013 because they were threatened with death, boycotts, or ostracism. The grand total, to my knowledge, is zero, despite the right's deep antipathy of Barack Obama.
But when it comes to the inauguration of Donald Trump, Andrea Bocelli, the wonderfully gifted, blind operatic tenor, has decided not to perform, despite being a friend of the president-elect. And reports indicate that it was not just because he was threatened with a boycott; rather, it was because of death threats that his security team deemed too serious to ignore.
Broadway star Jennifer Holliday has also dropped out of the inaugural festivities after being branded an "Uncle Tom." (I thought Uncle Tom's were male, by definition?) Claiming she didn't realize that performing at the inauguration would be interpreted as supporting the president (really?), she wrote, "My only choice must now be to stand with the LGBT community and to state unequivocally that I will not perform for the welcome concert or for any of the inauguration festivities."
Ironically, Trump offended some of his most conservative supporters by having his openly gay friend Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, speak at the Republican National Convention, while Thiel remains a key member of Trump's transition team.
Trump also proudly held up a gay flag at one of his rallies, celebrating LGBT's for Trump, and he recently picked Anthony Scaramucci, a self-described "gay rights activist," for a senior advisory role.
In fact, it was Scaramucci, as a member of the president-elect's transition team, who started the rumor that Trump would be "the first American president in US history that enters the White House with a pro-gay-rights stance. Elton John is going to be doing our concert on the mall for the inauguration." (Fran Curtis, John's spokesman immediately denied this report to the New York Times, stating, "Incorrect. He will NOT be performing.")
It appears that the vast majority of LGBT leaders, are not impressed. Standing with Trump means standing against them, and those who stand against them must be punished.
Other celebrities also declined invitations, apparently without any outside pressure being put on them, with John Legend explaining to the BBC: "Creative people tend to reject bigotry and hate.
"We tend to be more liberal-minded. When we see somebody that's preaching division and hate and bigotry, it's unlikely that he'll get a lot of creative people that want to be associated with him."
Ah yes, the tolerance and enlightenment of the creative left!
I fully understand that President-elect Trump continues to be a highly divisive figure, most recently attacking Congressman John Lewis, a Civil Rights icon, for saying that he did not believe Trump was a "legitimate" president because of Russian hacking of the election. Even some Republican leaders spoke up on Lewis's behalf, while his constituents, who also felt slighted, lashed out at Trump as well.
And I fully understand that many on the left think the absolute worst about Trump, as if he was another Hitler about to rise to power, genuinely believing their own, nearly-hysterical rhetoric. Leading the way in the hysteria are the Hollywood elites, among whom Bruce "Caitlyn" Jenner said he has a harder time being a political conservative than being transgender.
But having hysterical reactions to an incoming (or current) president is just as characteristic of the right as it is the left. For the last 8 years, I have heard every kind of crazy conspiracy theory about Barack Obama, including the claim that he is a secretly-gay, Muslim member of the Illuminati who is being groomed for his ultimate role as the antichrist. (Some of you reading this are saying in reply, "But he is!")
My issue is with the reaction of the so-called "tolerant and enlightened" left, the same left that, we are told, tends "to reject bigotry and hate," yet goes on violent looting riots when it doesn't get its way and launches death threats against celebrities who stand publicly with Trump.
I'm aware that people burned effigies of Obama after his election, while a liberal scholar writing on the Hill argues that demonstrators "aren't protesting [Trump] because he is a white male. These protests are because of the bigotry his campaign has emboldened and the fear of discrimination his presidency has the capacity to perpetuate."
But that underscores the very point I'm making. Those allegedly protesting bigotry, hatred, and discrimination are themselves engaging in those very things, with some Hollywood elites leading the way with their over-the-top, anti-Trump rhetoric.
It is the hypocrisy of the left, not its rejection of Trump, that is galling.