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Even if conservative talking head and controversial Donald Trump loyalist Megyn Kelly hasn't been a mainstay on our television screens ever since she parted ways with NBC over comments she made defending the use of blackface, the pundit has, indeed, continued to remain a presence in the public conscious. Part of that has to do with her podcast, which the media personality launched in September 2020, and its ensuing popularity among conservatives — and part of it, as viewers were reminded during an appearance on HBO's Real Time with Bill Maher, is the fact that her proclivity for courting controversy seems to blur itself with what many interpret as to the detriment of the less privileged. But this time, the media frenzy her one-on-one with host and comedian Bill Maher seemed to only make it two-fold — and for good reason.
As Deadline and other outlets reported after the segment with Kelly and Maher aired on Feb. 26, 2021, followers and critics alike noted the highly divisive opinion Kelly, who recounted to Maher her decision to yank her children out of the private school system in New York City, espoused. Even more controversial was Maher's response to her reasoning.
Megyn Kelly pulled her kids out of private school because of a 'leftist' curriculum
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While in conversation with Bill Maher during her Feb. 26, 2021, drop-in on his HBO late night show, former Fox News host and commentator Megyn Kelly shared her logic behind removing her children from a New York City private school in November 2020, where they had previously been enrolled. The deal-breaker for Kelly, it seemed, was that she viewed their curriculum as too "leftist" — an opinion that was formed by the fact that the school featured trans-inclusiveness and "social justice stuff."
"We were in the New York City private school system," Kelly recounted to Maher, "and they were definitely leftist, we're more center-right, and that's fine... then they started taking a really hard turn toward social justice stuff." Kelly then provided an example of "an experimental trans education program," which was taught to "8- and 9-year-old boys," and she concluded it "wasn't about support," implying it was an attempt at indoctrination.
(While it is unclear what curriculum Kelly was referring to, New York state does not have a mandated LGBTQ+ history curriculum, but NYC public schools are encouraged to incorporate "LGBTQ history, reading books by LGBTQ authors" and take care to make sure "sexual health curriculum is inclusive of all identities," per the NYC Department of Education.)
Bill Maher shocked audiences with his response to Megyn Kelly
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After listing her reasons for why she removed her children from their private school in late 2020, Megyn Kelly then went on to allege that white people were, as of late, more likely to be subjected to racism by people of color — a point to which Bill Maher seemed to welcome. "I feel like this is beyond race," the host told Kelly. Despite acknowledging the existence of racism and other forms of bigotry, Maher expressed, "I feel like it's a generational thing where so many people want their identity wrapped up in being a victim." Kelly herself went on to further Maher's point, stating "that's the push now...to lean into victimhood." The pundit then concluded by stating "we don't have to lean into victimhood — even when we might be victims."
After the Feb. 26, 2021, segment aired, many slammed Kelly and Maher on social media and in the press for criticizing those who are members of communities that are directly affected by higher levels of violence and targeted hate campaigns. Daily Beast editor Marlow Stern said, "having two rich white people suggest to a predominately white audience that the real problem in America right now" is racism against white people, in the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, was tone deaf — especially "when Black Americans are being hospitalized from COVID-19 at 2.9x the rate of white Americans and are 1.5x more likely to die from the disease."
Megyn Kelly and Bill Maher's bold claim goes against the hard facts for the LGBTQ+ community
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Bill Maher and Megyn Kelly's assertion that it's white people, not members of underserved or disenfranchised minorities, who are being targeted for the color of their skin (or even for their gender identity) largely goes against data and hard facts. As the LGBTQ+ advocacy group HRC highlighted in a report published in late 2020, approximately 44 transgender and/or nonbinary people were murdered in the U.S. that year for reasons specifically linked to their gender identity, though the organization was also quick to point out that the number is likely more due to underreporting or misreporting by law enforcement. The majority of those names listed were people who were Black, Hispanic, or Latinx.
Similarly, NBC News reported in 2019 that hate crimes against members of the trans community had risen by a whopping 20 percent that year. Another 2020 survey conducted by Trans Equality found that out of 28,000 respondents who identified as trans or nonbinary, one out of 10 had reported that they had been subjected to violent attacks due to their transgender status, and that 47 percent of Black transgender respondents "reported being denied equal treatment, verbally harassed, and/or physically attacked in the previous year because of being transgender."
...and for communities of color
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Similarly, statistics collected and analyzed by the federal government and broken down into digestible graphs, infographics, and charts by outlets like Business Insider in 2020 painted a similar picture when it came to systemic racism within the U.S. Per the publication, employment rates for people of color — specifically the Latinx and Black communities — significantly took a nosedive, especially in comparison to their white counterparts, ever since COVID-19 hit U.S. shores in early 2020.
The same data showed overwhelming schisms between white employees and employees who are people of color, with the former earning considerably more in the corporate sector, and holding the majority of high-ranking positions in the government and private sectors — meaning that they are in much closer proximity to power and who is able to wield it. Hispanic women and Black women were the most likely to be paid less than their while female counterparts.
This isn't the first time Megyn Kelly has criticized 'victimhood'
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Of course, similar types of rhetoric from Megyn Kelly, who has frequently claimed the mantle of "victimhood" for (mostly white) conservatives and Trump supporters, is hardly a new phenomenon. Back in November 2020, Kelly made the same sort of claims following the defeat of incumbent Donald Trump against current President Joe Biden during yet another chapter in her feud against journalist Chris Cuomo.
At one point during an online Twitter exchange between the two, Kelly accused Democrats of persecuting Trump voters by labeling them "the dregs of society" and being "labeled...racist, xenophobic, [and] transphobic [bigots]" for voting for the ex-commander-in-chief, who himself frequently supported anti-immigrant, anti-BLM, and anti-LGBTQ+ policies, legislation, and attitudes throughout his four-year term. She then lambasted the notion that "those 71 million Republican voters are supposed to simply choose 'healing'" by accepting the resulting win in Biden's favor.