Last night I watched David Letterman's new interview of Ellen Degeneres on Netflix.  I have also noticed an uncomfortably large number of statements from Governor Cuomo about hate crimes, mainly against Jews and the LGBTQ communities, all over New York State, including a Facebook message calling for a mass shooting of Watertown's LGBTQ community during Pride activities, hate crimes against Jews in Brooklyn, the burning of a Pride flag outside an LGBTQ bar in Harlem a week ago, and a spate of incidents state-wide.  Considering that New York is considered to be a liberal state this increase in hate crimes is shocking.

"We have had an 83 percent increase in anti-Semitic incidents in this state. 83 percent," Cuomo said Monday. "Over 50 percent in the nation, but 83 percent in this state. We have had an increase in LGBTQ hostile acts in this state. There is a pervasive, growing attitude of intolerance and hate in this country. I refer to it as the American cancer. It is a cancer because what cancer does is one cell in the body politic attacks other cells. That is what we are doing. Anti-Muslim, anti-Jewish, anti-African American, anti-LGBTQ - it is a cancer in the body politic of America, and it has to be stopped. You can have political differences without hating."

That's a lot of hate in New York!

To me the Ellen interview illustrated what a colossal waste of time, energy, and talent hate is.  She as been crystal clear ever since she came out as gay in 1997 that she doesn't want to be a symbol or political or leader in the gay community. In her Letterman interview she said she didn't come out to make a statement.  She did it to feel like a normal person who can just be herself without shame.  All she wants is to be an entertainer, and even people who don't like Ellen have to admit she is an incredibly successful one. 

When she publicly came out during the run of her popular sitcom, 'Ellen', advertisers dropped her, and the network offered no support.  She lost her career, finding it hard to get bookings as a comic or more television work.  She managed to earn about an average of $25,000 a year for three years because she got the job voicing Dory in 'Finding Nemo'.  That and a wildly popular hosting gig at the Academy Awards helped her come back to the point where she is reportedly worth approximately $450million.

I like Ellen because she is one of the very few comedians around that uses humor to make people laugh.  I am not especially prudish about expletives, but too many comedians use them to get laughs, and they certainly do elicit a kind of nervous laughter.  I am also not a fan of vitriolic political humor.  I don't find the current avalanche of verbal attacks on the President at all funny.  Instead it makes me anxious about the immediate future of our country.  I don't like to go to comics for my anxiety.  I go see comics to get a respite from it.  And 99 times out of 100 just spouting an expletive isn't funny, and it certainly isn't clever.  Just cheap ways to get a quick, meaningless laugh.

Ellen's rambling, observational style is strongly relatable, really a kind of genius.  Her sexual preference doesn't figure into it.  She is just a funny person.  You don't have to be gay to think she is funny.  And thinking of her as a 'funny gay person' doesn't add any more to the equation than taking 'gay' out of the label.  So those lean years in her life, caused by the public reaction to her being gay were a colossal waste of talent.

And a waste of energy.  If all the folks who are perpetrating our state's 83% rise in anti-Semitic hate crimes used their creativity to build something, instead of tearing down other people who are not actually a threat to them, what could this state be like?  And how about the amount of energy (and lives) stolen from the victims who could have been doing something positive in the world instead of having to respond to stupid hate crimes?  We face enough problems in the world to keep everyone busy, if that were something people wanted to do.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that 184 hate crimes have been reported in New York City so far this year, 64% more than in the same period last year.  "The increase is being propelled largely by anti-Semitic incidents, which were up 90 percent," the report states.  The increase in hate crimes is not limited to New York.  The same article reports that hate crimes in Washington, DC have nearly doubled, and Los Angeles is seeing a record level of hate crimes this year.

All of this begs the question, 'what's the point?'  How does what Ellen does in her bedroom adversely impact my life?  How do other Americans make my life worse simply because they are of different cultures or religions?  How does the color of a person mean I should deal with them differently from anyone of a different color?  Not at all as far as I can see.

Yet, as Kermit the Frog famously crooned, 'It's not easy being green.'

What a colossal waste.

As Ellen and Kermit have shown, it is possible to overcome differences to earn love and respect even in this world that seems so negative and tenuous.  And Kermit had a long, public inter-species love affair with a pig, yet remains one of the most beloved figures in popular culture.  So there is a ray of hope for humanity, though the increases in hate crimes threaten to turn off that light.

Ellen and Kermit are two good examples of popular characters who transcend their differentness to actually do the things they do, rather than making it about who they are, which is, more or less, none of our business.  People respond positively to that approach more naturally than to the rather blunt proselytizing Hollywood has thrown at us in script after script on television and in movies (even if you don't like President Trump the most recent season of 'The Good Fight' on CBS was more than a little much), and yes, Supergirl, we get your point about hate crimes against aliens.

People's differences shouldn't matter a jot to us.  How they treat other people and relate to us, and what they contribute should be the only measure.  It should be easier to be green.