Comedian Stephen Colbert is the latest person to run into the “Outrage, Inc.” buzzsaw. And, apparently, he simply must be destroyed.
Colbert is a famous American comedian who hosts a nightly show in which he pretends to be a far-right conservative. In fact, his show mocks the far right and its agenda.
The other night, Colbert was “reporting” on the controversy surrounding Washington, DC’s football team, the “Redskins.” Redskin is an old name for American Indians / Native Americans, and it’s considered pejorative, if outdated. There’s been a growing movement to force the team to change its name. So, Colbert, doing what he does, skewered the Redskins by “agreeing” with them.
Specifically, Colbert reported on Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder trying to appease his critics by creating a “foundation” to “help” Native Americans: “The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.”
Colbert then explains that he too has created a foundation – his is for Asian-Americans. So, he argues (between the lines, as he does), he can be as offensive as he wants to be about Asians, because, you know, he created a foundation. He then goes on a long rant about how racist stereotypes about Asians are part of the long heritage of his show, obviously mocking the notion that the term “Redskin” is part of the long heritage of America.
Colbert’s foundation to show the Asian-American community that he cares is called the “Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.”
Taken out of context, it would look like Colbert was using racist stereotypes to mock Asian-Americans, when in fact, he was suggesting that racist stereotypes of Asian-Americans are not somehow minimized, or acceptable, if you create a patronizing “foundation” on their behalf, intended to whitewash your crimes.
But Outrage, Inc. got a hold of it, and now Stephen Colbert, one of America’s biggest and most effective progressive voices, simply must be destroyed in the name of progressivism. (Though, it’s worth noting that far-right conservative activist Michelle Malkin, who cares so much about anti-Asian sentiment that she wrote an entire book defending the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, has been fanning the flames against Colbert as well, and conservatives have an entire online system for trolling (bullying) people on the Internet – it’s no wonder they’d be out for Colbert’s blood, he’s a liberal.)
There’s now a trending hashtag on Twitter, #cancelcolbert, and very-serious-very-hurt people are demanding that Stephen Colbert be fired, and his show canceled – all in the name of progressive values.
Adding to the problem, and confusion, Comedy Central has a Twitter account, not run by Colbert or his show, that tweeted a quote from his segment, in particular the name of the racist Asian-American foundation. Standing alone, the quote sounds racist. It did to me.
I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.
That is, until I watched the video and realized that the tweet was a quote from the segment, and it was a “foundation” that was actually poking fun at the Redskin’s “I’m not racist” foundation.
Colbert went on Twitter to explain, but that didn’t matter.
Enough already. Enough of the never-ending jihad against every progressive who has said or written something that you think proves he’s racist, sexist, misogynist, or that he hates bisexuals, trans people or cats. Putting aside for a moment the fact that most of these outrages are based on utter bs to start with – usually, as in the case of Colbert, someone has utterly misunderstood the underlying point of the discussion – even if the outrage were justified, you don’t destroy someone like Stephen Colbert, who has an incredible record of defending progressivism, based on one “mistake,” and then claim to be destroying him in the name of progressivism. (I say “progressive,” but we do it to conservatives sometimes too. Often our ire is justified, sometimes it’s not.)
One of the arguments made in the defense of the Asian-American who reportedly started the entire brouhaha, is that since the person is Asian-American, they therefore know what racism is — and since they’re calling this racism, it per se is racism, and you should STFU because you’re white and what would you know anyway.
In fact, the woman who launched this campaign, Suey Park, just did a HuffPostLive chat in which she attacked the host for being white, a man, and having an opinion different from her own:
SUEY PARK: I feel like it’s incredibly patronizing of you to paint these questions this way, especially as a white man, I don’t expect you to be able to understand what people of color are actually saying with regards to #CancelColbert.
HUFFPO’S JOSH ZEPPS: Suey, being a white man doesn’t prevent me from being able to think, and prevent me from being able to have reasoned perspectives on things. I didn’t give up my right to have an intellectual conversation when I was born.
SUEY PARK: White men definitely feel like they’re entitled to talk over me, they definitely feel like they’re entitled to kind of minimalize my experience. And they definitely feel like they are somehow exempt and so logical as compared to women who are painted as emotional, right?
We’ve used that argument from time to time in the gay community as well. And it’s often accurate, but not always. Just because I’m gay, doesn’t mean I’m always right. Sometimes, gay people have a unique life-experience which lends itself to spotting homophobia that straight people might not notice. Other times, our unique experience makes us hypersensitive, and we blow up about something unjustly. The problem with the change-dot-orgafication of the Internet is that now “everyone’s an activist.” And activism, like any other skill in life, takes a certain amount of, well, skill. And just because you have the power to blow things up doesn’t mean you have the wisdom to wield it well. Good activists are usually right about their targets. The masses, less so.
The Internet has led to some amazing citizen engagement. But it’s also empowered a lot of crazy. It gives crazy a home where it can meet like-minded crazy, and then make crazy babies.
While it’s certainly possible that, once you find a large number of people who agree with you, this might prove that your cause is just. It also might simply mean you’ve joined a cult.
About 4:50 into the video Colbert starts talking about the Redskins.