In case you missed it, outraged liberals are outraged at Stephen Colbert, the hipster comedian who plays a fake conservative on television. Slate’s Dave Weigel has a good synopsis, and this HuffPost Live interview with the Twitter activist who launched the #CancelColbert hashtag movement is both informative and cringeworthy. Do watch it:
Basically, the outrage mongers seized on this tweet, published (and subsequently deleted) on Thursday, as an example of Colbert’s sustained campaign of microagression against minorities:
I used to respect and enjoy your work, @ColbertReport. Fuck you.
— Suey Park (@suey_park) March 27, 2014
The Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals has decided to call for #CancelColbert. Trend it.
— Suey Park (@suey_park) March 27, 2014
The @ColbertReport tweet was a reference to something Colbert had already said on his show Wednesday night, minus the context and intent of the joke: to mock Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who recently announced the creation of the awkwardly named Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation to highlight "the struggles of Native Americans."
But the aggrieved had already made up their minds to be aggrieved. Context didn't matter because, in the words of the aforementioned Twitter activist Suey Park: "I really don't think we're going to end racism by joking about it." But not all liberals agreed, and a progressive civil war of sorts broke out on Twitter :
If you're looking to meet some insufferable people I found this #CancelColbert thing
— Jon Lovett (@jonlovett) March 28, 2014
@RaniaKhalek Please don’t let me distract you from flacking for the Kremlin.
— daveweigel (@daveweigel) March 28, 2014
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) March 28, 2014
@DougWilliams85 A) Not all "folks in communities of color" agree with you; b) Colbert **was attacking the real asshole, Dan Snyder.**
— Richard Yeselson (@yeselson) March 28, 2014
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) March 28, 2014
@AmyAlex63 because satire is an excuse for racism
— Suey Park (@suey_park) March 28, 2014
#CancelColbert because I'm tired of being expected to put up with racism from liberals just because the other side is ‘worse'.
— Alexis (@alexisjennelle) March 28, 2014
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) March 28, 2014
Don't #CancelColbert. Because context matters more than fake outrage.
— Touré (@Toure) March 28, 2014
It goes without saying that something has gone seriously awry with your worldview when Touré has to step in and be the voice of reason. But it's also true that the liberals defending Colbert have only themselves to blame for this nonsense.
Touré, for example, works for a network (MSNBC) that is obsessed with race—specifically, with all the ways that conservatives express their deeply held racist views using coded language and dogwhistle microagressions. He once accused Mitt Romney of trying to "niggerize" Obama by using the word "angry" to describe the president. Touré and his colleagues help fuel a constant stream of outrage at even the slightest hint—real or imagined—of racial insensitivity.
Chris Matthews seems genuinely convinced that roughly half the population are white supremacists secretly arming themselves for a race war, while Lawrence O’Donnell thinks making fun of Obama’s golf habit is a calculated attempt to "align" the president with the "lifestyle of Tiger Woods." MSNBC's Karen Finney, a former Democratic spokesperson, suggested that Republicans were racist for supporting a black candidate for president.
Martin Bashir, who lost his job at MSNBC for inviting his viewers to defecate in Sarah Palin’s mouth, informed us that "IRS" was the new n-word, and Republicans were using their investigation into the inappropriate targeting of conservative nonprofit groups "as their latest weapon in the war against the black man in the White House."
This is by no means an exhaustive list.
If anything, the #CancelColbert agitators deserve credit for their consistent application of the progressive worldview. When these conventional left-wing tactics (1. call someone a racist, 2. attempt to deprive them of their livelihood, 3. repeat) are used against someone liberals consider "one of their own" like Stephen Colbert, they are flummoxed, even slightly amused at the absurdity. Colbert supports Democrats, therefore he is not a racist. Q.E.D. "What are these people talking about?" they wonder.
Liberals are not often forced to confront the Balrog-esque anger beast they feed and nurture on a daily basis. It is a terrifying sight to behold, as conservatives well know. And that's what makes these rare moments when the beast turns on its masters so entertaining to watch—even if they do not bode particularly well for the future of our republic/civilization in general.