(The Root) — Actress Stacey Dash is in the news again, this time responding to the Twitterverse, which has gone stark, raving mad over her very public endorsement of GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney. Dash, who recently celebrated her reunion with the cast of Clueless (1995), the cult classic that made pretty much everyone involved a star, has been under attack because of the endorsement. “Shocked” and “saddened” over the abusive language being lobbed at her, she has been making the rounds defending her support of Romney.
When I first read about Dash’s endorsement, I thought to myself, “Only Dash, who is notorious for being difficult to work with, would torpedo the opportunity to capitalize on her Entertainment Weekly cover with Alicia Silverstone and on the press junket surrounding the celebration of Clueless by endorsing Romney at the same time — and wearing a sexy outfit while doing it, no less.”
And although I expected there to be pushback from a lot of Dash’s fans, particularly blacks and women, based on Romney’s racist and sexist rhetoric; his platform on issues that affect women and children; and, quite frankly, Dash’s sexy salute to the candidate, I did not expect the level of racist and sexist commentary lobbed at Dash.
The Web is an interesting place because the same freedom that allows people to anonymously post comments that can help those voices be heard that are on the margins or that express differing opinions also fuels the phenomenon of hate speech by those who take exception to what people say or do on the Web.
Dash, a multiracial woman who identifies as black, has the right to endorse whomever she likes, in the way that she wants, even if supporting a certain candidate seems to go against her own interests and the interests of those who look like her. She has the right to vote and to have an opinion about the election process even if it is not popular or politically prudent for her to do so. It is possible to disagree with someone politically without calling him or her everything but a child of God.
In my mind, Dash is no different from the scores of black ministers who advise blacks to vote against their interests or not to vote at all because of a specific issue, like gay marriage, as if that were going to affect their lives more than job creation or access to health care.
While such pronouncements may be socially irresponsible, the ministers have the right to endorse and vote for a candidate for a particular “moral” reason, and their followers have the right to follow their lead, even if it means that they become more disenfranchised in the process. If some folks think that Dash’s endorsement of Romney is irresponsible toward blacks and women, then say that instead of calling her every racist and sexist epithet available.