I was surprised to learn this weekend that people were asking to #CancelColbert because Stephen Colbert mocked Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder by using an anti-Asian slur. I thought Colbert was making the same point I did last year when I posted on Twitter about the San Francisco Chinamen.
I saw Colbert’s original Redskins skit on TV but not the controversial tweet that quoted the skit out of context. I don’t agree with those who say Colbert’s Asian imitation was not racist. Of course it was. But I don’t think Colbert would disagree. In fact, I thought that was the point. I felt Colbert was trying to mock those who support the Redskins name when they say Native Americans should not be offended. By illustrating his point with another minority group, the racism becomes abundantly clear.
Group members are never monolithic, and some will find Colbert’s stunt offensive while others may not. Still, Asian-Americans have every right to be offended by whatever offends them. But that, you see, is the whole point about the Redskins. Native Americans have every right to be offended by that name, and telling them to lighten up or citing one or two pro-Redskins Native Americans who are not offended proves nothing.
In other words, the move to #CancelColbert shows exactly why we should #CancelRedskins. And that, I believe, was Stephen Colbert’s point. Racism is wrong. Period.
But that raises a question about the limits and boundaries of comedy. Should Asian-Americans be used as “collateral damage,” as Brittney Cooper argues, to make a point about racism directed at Native Americans? That’s an important question, which I think Colbert himself addressed in January in this brilliant skit on racism (above) that insults Asians, Latinos, blacks, Jews, and women.
No I don’t think we should cancel The Colbert Report. Colbert’s satire provides one of the freshest and most provocative platforms for progressive thought on cable TV. But if, somehow, some way, the cancelation of that show would force Americans, and thus Dan Snyder, to realize that offensive mascots like the Redskins don’t deserve to grace professional sports teams, then I would gladly support removing the show from the air.
Obamacare has provided health care coverage to 9.5 million people, the largest expansion in the US in half a century. http://t.co/hzPP5KbbQq— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin)March 31, 2014
(Source: Los Angeles Times)