When the Daily Show announced their choice for a new host, the obvious and natural reaction was to do what any sane person would do: immediately search through the new host’s twitter feed for anything that could be construed as offensive, and then rush to be the first to blog about it. It’s called Diaper-journalism, and it’s a new way to live your life as an adult that’s allowed to vote and drive. And so the blogs were blogged, and now, if you’re part of the vast majority of people that only consume media casually, you probably only know two things about the new Daily Show host: 1) he’s a black guy, and 2) he’s racist.
Now this episode is particularly interesting because it presents a contradiction. If there’s anything I learned in the last year or two of feigning empathy online to sound important and smart, it’s that black people are literally incapable of being racist. Only white people are capable of being racist, that’s undeniable, so I’m not even sure why we’re having a conversation about whether or not Trevor Noah is a bigot. He’s racially incapable of it. You see, black people have these little nodes in their skulls or something like that which prevents them from doing racism. It’s actually kind of sad, really. Sometimes I’ll get bummed out thinking about all the things I hate about the Basque that black people will never even know about – or I’ll do a funny Chinese voice in my head and laugh, and then I’ll get sad knowing that I’m only capable of doing that funny voice because I’m white. So don’t even bother asking whether or not Trevor Noah is racist. Don’t kid yourself, he’s not.
But it would be foolish not to address Noah’s tweets. They are, after all, problematic. And problematic things must always be dissected, extrapolated, converted into content, and sold to advertisers. We must take that which makes us mad, and turn it into profit. Think about how much shit I buy with my mad-money. Most of my income is from freelancing and most of the stuff I write is about how my feelings are hurt. I literally eat and wear my feelings. I live in a house built from outrage, and in it I sit comfortable and angry and I try to figure out whether or not I’m being ripped off. So like the rest of them, I am also mad about Trevor Noah’s tweets, but I have to find a different way to be mad about them. I have to define myself through my unique brand of mad.
And I have to say, in all my years of take-doing and piecethinking, I’ve never seen the media fuck the proverbial pumpkin this bad. I’ve never seen the Opinonati miss the point of the whole thing to this extent. Once again it’s me and me alone with the perspective edge to cut through all the bullshit and find The Real Lesson in this whole Noah tweet ordeal. It’s not that Noah’s tweets were offensive – it’s that they were kind of accurate. That’s my take, folks.
Just like blacks can’t be racist, it is true that Jews love money, and they’re often rich. That’s what makes Noah’s jokes so powerful, transformative, and punchuppery. He’s going after people with money – the Jews – which is always okay, and it’s always the right way to do comedy.
Look, it would be completely unacceptable if Trevor Noah had been a white man making those jokes about Jewish people, but when we consult the privilege hierarchy, we notice that Jews are always above blacks and therefore the jokes are A-OK when they’re coming from someone like Trevor Noah.
Keep in mind, I’m not saying that the Jews are bad, I’m not allowed to, but I am saying that it’s okay for Trevor Noah to say that they’re bad. When he does it, it’s accurate, and if Jewish people complain about it, guess what: they’re punching down.
Now obviously you can see the nuance here. This is a tricky moral issue to navigate. How do we avoid condemning Trevor Noah as a black man, whilst simultaneously condemning the things he said, but also praise him for the things he said in the context of them having been said in the voice of a black man? As a white thinkpiecer, it’s a lot like when I mediate a fight between two of my students. Often I’ll I have to let the smaller one punch the bigger one in the face once or twice before I break up the fight, but then I tell them that fighting is bad. I can say that what Trevor Noah said is wrong, but I can’t say he’s wrong for having said it. It’s very tricky, indeed, but it’s the right take, and it’s a good one.