After the surfacing of comedian Shane Gillis’ past racist comments, some of which were directed at Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, many called for his firing from his recently announced Saturday Night Live spot. But Yang took a different approach and suggested forgiveness in such situations — at least if individuals are willing to acknowledge their past failings and evolve.
CNN reports that Gillis was ultimately fired for his past remarks, but Andrew Yang recently took to Twitter to reveal that the young comedian reached out to him and will be sitting down with him at some point.
“Shane Gillis reached out,” he tweeted. “Looks like we will be sitting down together soon.”
During his appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, Yang addressed Gillis’ comments. Although he did not condone them and admitted that anti-Asian racism “hurts,” he also did not push for Gillis’ punishment.
“But at the same time, bigger picture, I believe that our country has become excessively punitive and vindictive about remarks that people find offensive or racist and that we need to try and move beyond that, if we can, particularly in a case where the person is, in this case, to me, like a comedian whose words should be taken in a slightly different light.”
It’s not the first time that comedians have come under fire for past comments; Trevor Noah and Kevin Hart were both attacked for their past tweets that many found offensive. But Gillis’ comments were particularly racially charged and some criticized them as being offensive for the sake of being offensive.
Yang’s decision to sit down with Gillis is receiving mixed reactions on social media. While some suggest that he is setting a positive example of forgiveness, others claim that he is condoning Gillis’ comments. Some believe that his meeting will not sit well with the liberal media outlets, which already don’t give him as much coverage as the other candidates.
Regardless, Yang appears to be standing by his position. In response to doctor Eugene Gu, who claimed Yang should not sit down with Gillis, the 44-year-old serial entrepreneur acknowledged his difference of view.
“I believe that people can find out about each other through this kind of dialogue. We should try to make this a teaching moment if possible,” he tweeted, before adding that he understands Gu’s perspective.
Yang is currently in sixth place in the Democratic presidential primary with three percent support. He is set to appear in the October debates, although it’s not clear if he will qualify for subsequent appearances.