Ben Shapiro has long cracked me up. I first saw him a columnist for the Worldnetdaily before he moved on to Breitbart.com and now to Truth Revolt. He’s the far right’s boy wonder. And in his latest column, he’s got an axe to grind with Stephen Colbert.
Last week, after President Obama gave his highly-mockable “Mission Accomplished” speech announcing that 7.1 million Americans had selected an Obamacare plan, Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert hit the airwaves. He did mock. But instead of mocking Obama’s laughably manipulated 7.1 million number, he did his usual routine: pretending to be a cluelessly cruel right-winger, Colbert spat, “I wish I could come to you with some good news, but the worst imaginable thing has happened: Millions of Americans are going to get healthcare.”
But this is just barely a satire. Many Republican governors and legislators have, in fact, worked tirelessly to prevent millions of Americans from getting healthcare. About 5 million low-income Americans would now have health insurance if not for that Republican obstructionism in blocking the expansion of Medicaid. They are denying health insurance that is available to the working poor in order to score political points against Obamacare. And some conservative pundit and organizations have actually encouraged people not to sign up for health insurance through the exchanges and to go to the emergency room if they get sick instead.
This routine, in which Colbert plays at conservatism in order to portray it as unendingly ugly, should be labeled for what it is: vile political blackface. When Colbert plays “Colbert,” it’s not mere mockery or satire or spoof. It’s something far nastier.Blackface, which has an ugly history dating back to at least the fifteenth century according to historian John Strausbaugh, was used to portray demeaning and horrifying stereotypes of blacks. Such stereotypical imitation has not been limited to blacks, of course; actors tasked with playing stereotypical Jew Shylock often donned a fake nose and red wig, as did actors who were supposed to play Barabas in The Jew of Malta. Such stereotypical potrayals create a false sense of blacks, or Jews, or whomever becomes the target of such nastiness.
And this is precisely what Colbert does with regard to politics: he engages in Conservativeface.
Oh, we know, Ben. We know. We all feel so terrible at the centuries of persecution of conservatives and how being made fun of entrenches that oppression in the American psyche. I’m sure it must just be so damn difficult for you to overcome the legacy of discrimination. I think you should form a new NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Conservative People.
This is why Colbert is such an effective weapon for the left. Unlike Stewart, whose mockery is no different in kind from Greg Gutfeld’s on the other side, Colbert’s shtick is of a different sort: it’s based on creation of a character who doesn’t exist, but the audience is supposed to believe does exist in type.
You think Greg Gutfeld’s “comedy” is no different from Jon Stewart’s? That’s hilarious all by itself.