Personally, I blame Jon Stewart. The former host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” was quick, clever and smug enough to convince a lot of younger, lazy Americans that they could become civically literate by watching a comedy show, thus being entertained while learning about current events and how to have the “right’ opinions about them. Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, Noah, Jimmy Kimmel (yecchh), Bill Maher (gag) and all of the other left-leaning clowns and jokers have a right to their opinions and to spout them at will, but nobody should think that any of them possess such remarkable insight that they should be influential opinion-makers. Indeed, their opinions are approximately as authoritative as a gas station attendant or the average taxi driver.
Throughout American history, there have been the occasional wise wags whose satirical takes on current events prompted thought as well as mirth—Mark Twain, Will Rogers, Mort Sahl, and a few others. Never before, however, have there been so many pretenders to that class who not only are taken seriously by the young, but who also take themselves seriously, far more seriously than their intellects, training and experience justifies. During the Trump administration, this trend became actively destructive, but many crtics even expressed concern during Stewart’s reign, as surveys showed that a frightening number of people used “The Daily Show” as their primary news source. This makes approximately as much sense as using SNL’s “Weekend Update” for that purpose.
Trevor Noah, Stewart’s cuter but equally smug successor on Comedy Central, provided us with a neon-bright example of how damaging these fake authorities can be. The topic was the mass killings at two Atlanta-area massage parlors that left eight people dead earlier this week. Six of the eight women were Asian-Americans, but the motive behind the shootings is murky. Police arrested a suspect, 21-year-old Robert Aaron Long yesterday. Long reportedly told investigators that he had a sexual addiction and saw the businesses as a temptation he needed to eliminate. (This makes slightly more sense than “Son of Sam” saying he was instructed by a dog, but you know: mass murderers.) Never mind what he says, the race-baiters that make up much of the Democratic Party decided that this was another opportunity that couldn’t be missed.
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), a member of “The Squad,” tweeted yesterday,
“8 lives were violently stolen. We stand in solidarity & deep compassion w/ our AAPI [Asian American and Pacific Islander] family in Georgia & across the country. Racism, misogyny, & white supremacy are a threat to all of our communities, and we must call out the targeted, violent attacks on our AAPI neighbors.”
Other “of color” elected Democrats followed the script. Showing that, so far at least, there are some depths to which they will not stoop, both Speaker Pelosi and President Biden declined to call the attacks a “hate crime,” saying that the motive is unclear. It is, but the fact that the killer himself says he was trying to kill sex workers creates the rebuttable presumption that race was not motive.
Trevor Noah, however, launched a hilarious riff on the tragedy. I jest: there was nothing funny about it, but who is better qualified to analyze the social roots of a U.S. incident than a South African high school grad who has engaged in nothing except comedy since he was 18 and who has shown no interest in becoming an American citizen?
Here is Noah’s rant: