Should we cancel Stephen Colbert’s show? In a word, no.
On Thursday, the account for Colbert’s show, “The Colbert Report,” tweeted what has, when removed from the context of the fully developed joke it punchlined, become a rather incendiary remark.
“I am willing to show the #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever,” the now-deleted tweet read from the show’s account, @ColbertReport.
In context, it was part of a bit satirizing efforts of Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins, to eliminate criticism of his team’s name by starting a foundation for Native Americans.
To paraphrase James Poniewozik of “Time,” there are two ways to react to this sort of tweet: We can say, “That was a bad tweet, but surely there’s some sort of explanation. I should investigate further before lighting my torch and sharpening my pitchfork;” or we can say “OFF WITH HIS HEAD, COLBERT IS LITERALLY THE WORST.”
I would hope we’d all aspire to the former, but ours is not an ideal world.
Rather, there was a lot of the second option. Of notable mention is Suey Park, who is credited with beginning the now-notorious hashtag, #CancelColbert.
For a time, I hoped her nonsensical vendetta was an elaborate satire of the ridiculous culture of “OMG someone should be fired for that!!” knee-jerk reactions that the update-often ethos of social media has fostered.
And the entire affair wouldn’t be out of place on Colbert’s show: Park seems more a single-note caricature of an overzealous women’s studies major than a serious activist.
Unfortunately, however, it is my understanding that Park is actually as self-serious as she seems.
Thus: Shame on you, Suey Park.
And not just on her, but on all who have behaved as she has
Some have called Park’s tweeting “hashtag activism.” Instead, I’ll call it what it is: masturbatory contrarianism.
Prejudice and racism are still salient topics in America. Racists still exist, and discrimination is not dead.
And there is good to be done in campaigning against that sort of bigotry.
But what Park is doing is not helpful. By crying foul at anything that can be construed as remotely against her beliefs, she is parodying her own supposed cause and making a mockery of an ongoing effort to improve our country.
Toddlers have thrown more thoughtful tantrums.
There is a thoughtful dialogue to be had about race and its place in humor, but Park and her hashtag have done nothing to contribute to it.