Historical Racism, defined either as discrimination formalized in law or as open white supremacist hostility, has ceased to excite progressives in proportion to the degree it has vanished from American public life. In order to maintain their cultural edge, the Left has instead declared war on the more nebulous (and thus, easier to accuse) “White privilege”. This concept has a long and tenuous definition, but in practice means that the white may not speak to or about the nonwhite in any way that sounds bad to the latter. If the nonwhite says it is offensive, then it is offensive. Full stop. Intent does not matter.
You may not recall the instance, in late 1999, of a white employee of the DC government who, in a private meeting, used the word “niggardly” and was afterwards forced to resign, because it happened before the Internet had taken over the news. By all accounts, he used the word correctly, implying miserliness, and not as a racial slur. This fact was deemed irrelevant. A nonwhite was offended, and it was decided that he should have known better than to use a semi-homonym for a racial slur in the hearing of nonwhites.
You may ask why I bring all this up, aside from offering an explanation for why shrill blather about how racist the Tea Party must be causes my eyes to roll so far back in my head I can see my cerebellum (I understand how disconcerting that is in public). You may even go so far as to say “But Andrew, as a right-winger, wouldn’t it be better from your point of view to defend Colbert? Isn’t a defense of Colbert’s non-racist intent a principle conservatives would prefer to be established?
I would have to smoke a particularly piquant selection of minty-scented crack to believe that a successful defense by intent of a popular liberal like Stephen Colbert would ever prepare the battlespace for a similar defense of a conservative. That will happen on the same day Colbert invites Bill O’Reilly to guest-host his show while flying pigs deliver the orders to the seven angels to pour out their bowls.
How do I know this? Because Colbert “me-luv-yoo-long-time” gag was aimed at Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder’s defense of the intent of that particular franchise’s use of that particular name. Snyder is not a liberal-in-good-standing, so his intent is meaningless, even if LIGS believe that his intent is what he says it is, which they don’t.
The Pass is for Democrats. It is only for Democrats.
This isn’t even an exercise in that tried-and-true content generator for wingnuts, the Liberal Hypocrisy Rant. This is beyond hypocrisy. Ted Kennedy staying in the Senate despite crimes against women that would have gotten Mitt Romney ridden out of town on a Minuteman missile, that was hypocrisy. This is something Orwellian. This is doublethink.
You will recall: doublethink is the act of maintaining, and following, two directly opposed principles, and unconsciously knowing when to switch from one to the other. At present time, White Progressives have in their minds, concurrently operant, two utterly opposed philosophies:
- White privilege is real and means that any utterance by a white which offends a nonwhite must be derided, regardless of how trivial the offense may seem.
- The intent to do good, or at least, the lack of intent to give offense, matters and is even exculpatory.
Rule 2 is for Democrats. Rule 1 is for Republicans. So if I, a Republican, joined in a Rule 2 defense of Colbert, hoping that my defense of free speech and satire by an enemy – disagreeing with what Colbert says, but defending to the death his right to say it – would earn some good will for the next time a Republican says something deemed offensive by an Official Victim, I would be the stupidest person who ever lived. If I trusted the people who insinuate with every breath that the only reason I oppose the President is because of his terrifying blackness to safeguard my free speech, I would have no intellectual value save as a subject for a study in cognitive dissonance.
The Pass is for Democrats. It is only for Democrats.
Do I think Colbert should be cancelled? Yes, because I’ve never been able to regard that smarmy mug of his without wanting to stuff a brick through it. But that’s me. Do I think his “dung-a-lung-fung” joke is a hanging offense? No, I think free speech and satire should be judged by intent. But I am stuffed with white-privileged, patriarchal, heteronormative cooties, and I won’t be deconstructed, and I do not give a damn. What I think is compromised.
What I think is that to the extent Rule 1 has been accepted, things such as free speech and satire are dead. Because if free speech and satire only run in one direction, they are not really free. There was plenty of free speech in the antebellum South – so long as you were white.
And if free speech and satire are dead, then the future promises instead vulgar displays of power. Remember the great Duck Dynasty controversy? Was Phil Robertson saved from being blacklisted on his own show by a spirited defense of his intent? No. He was saved by his fans, who made it clear to AMC that they liked Duck Dynasty just the way it was, and they didn’t give two ducks who Phil offended by his exercise of free speech. It was a rare instance of conservative-minded people having some power in the cultural sphere, and using it.
But fear not. As OKCupid just demonstrated, the Left has far more experience with these things.