This week Trevor Noah proved to the entire world that he has an incredible amount of grace and self-control. As a HUGE Jon Stewart fan, I have to say that I am finally starting to see what he saw in Trevor Noah, he is thoughtful, patient, and he picks up on the most subtle ironies. He demonstrated this beautifully during his interview with Tomi Lahren…
Which brings me to the point. Tomi Lahren is a conservative, possibly even “alt-right”, tv “journalist”/rant-show host who has gained notoriety for her loud, incendiary, and even cruel rants about African-Americans, immigrants, and various social, political, and economic groups or ideals that she deems to be “liberal”. Commonly her rants lack any sort of fact based argument, and instead feed off of feelings of frustration, dissent, and hatred. My personal opinion of her is, frankly, that she is an absolute imbecile, but there are millions who love her, and millions more who watch her.
Miss Lahren’s appearance on “The Daily Show with Trevor Noah” was highly anticipated, and to be fair, took a lot of courage on her part. It was also extremely informative, by this i mean that throughout the conversation it became clear that either this woman is truly as hateful, spiteful, and awful as people have accused her of being, OR she has been horribly miseducated (yes I know it’s not a word, it’s a music reference, 10 points to whoever gets it :). Because I am DEEPLY perturbed by inaccuracy, I thought this might be a good place to place my thoughts…
Part 1: Protest, Black Lives Matter, and the American-ness of civil disobedience.
Early on Tomi talks about the protests that erupted in the post-election aftermath of the Trump election and states rather plainly that protesting and public demonstration was first seen with “the occupy Wall Street brats” which turned into BLM and then progressed into the Not My President protests…
… I don’t know if she is implying that these protests are all somehow one in the same, but if that indeed is her point, I am genuinely concerned that this woman has been SEVERELY misinformed. Just for the record, Occupy Wall Street was a protest that came out of frustration with economic inequality. Broadly, they took issue with the distribution of wealth in America. Black Lives Matter really has nothing to do with Occupy.
Black Lives Matter was born as a result of numerous instances of aggression, and in some cases deadly force, being used against African Americans. After the deaths of so many young African American men and women at the hands of other members of their communities, including police officers and other African Americans, leaders within the community sought to encourage African Americans to view their lives as equally valuable to those of their white counterparts. It is also a call to action in opposition to “black on black” violence (as the conservatives call it), serving as a reminder to African Americans that their black brothers and sisters are not disposable.
The protests in opposition to Donald Trump came from WAY more than just African Americans, or hippy-dippy liberal weirdos for that matter, it came from members of numerous diverse racial, social, economic, and political backgrounds. The simple fact is that those who are alarmed by Donald Trump’s rhetoric and behavior is frightening to those who aren’t rich, male, and white.
Now that we have established that these are very different protests, there is another thing that, I feel, is really important for me to touch on, not just because of Ms. Lahren’s comments, but mostly because of a common argument that we hear about BLM and other social movements. The right pushes this narrative that people who protest are somehow hoodlums, or that those who march and demonstrate are either ignorant, creating a problem for attention, or are somehow less American than others.
America as a nation was born out of protest and demonstration, no matter how much Ms. Lahren wants to believe and argue otherwise. What do you think the Boston Tea Party was? From the revolution onward, protest and demonstration (and to a point, civil disobedience) have proven effective methods to advance the needs and rights of many! It is neither fair, nor intellectually honest to insinuate that these protests are any different than the dozens of boycotts, protests, slave rebellions, and civil rights marches that have shaped our nation to this point.
There is something to be gleaned from the fact that before anything else, our founding fathers thought it important to give us, the populace, the right to speak out against them and our government, the right to come together and demonstrate our dissatisfaction, the right to give our input on social, political, and economic issues in a loud and boisterous way. It has always amazed me that the moment people of color, or women, or “liberals” make an effort to contribute to our nation’s political discourse by exercising their 1st Amendment right to do so, there is an instant backlash from people like Ms. Lahren who suddenly decide that the 1st Amendment doesn’t apply to American citizens who are saying things she doesn’t like.
Which brings me to…
Part 2: The $1,000,000 Unanswered Question
Trevor Noah asked Ms. Lahren SEVERAL times how she felt African Americans in america should gain attention for some of the injustices that they are seeking resolution for. Genuinely, I think this was one of the best questions of the night because it framed a really important problem. For all the criticism she has for these movements, Ms. Lahren couldn’t seem to offer a constructive alternative.
I often tell my conservative friends, “give me your idea”! Mostly because they are immediately critical of any policy that doesn’t come out of a GOP Congressional office. I am all for criticizing, but at some point “it sucks” isn’t going to cut it.
Perhaps Obamacare is the best example, to all my anti-Obamacare friends and readers, genuinely I want to know what your idea is for something better. I don’t want to hear what’s wrong with Obamacare, in fact, don’t mention it at all, just give me a proposal, starting from our pre-ACA healthcare system, that allows for as many people to be covered, that doesn’t allow people to be denied for pre-existing conditions, and that allows young adults to remain on their parent’s plans until 25… go ahead, I will wait!
Ms. Lahren never gave a single idea as to how to start the conversation about race in America, instead, she was dismissive and arrogant about the real life struggles of people of color in this country. Now, in my last post I explored privilege, and I have been working really hard to understand how some of these issues might look from Ms. Lahren’s perspective, and so I realize it might be a bit hard for her to identify the problem, but I don’t necessarily understand why she REFUSED to acknowledge the question.
And then she said the magic words… “perceived oppression”. I was going to let that slide, until I heard her go in for another round. As Trevor tried to ask her about how she as a woman tried to gain equal rights for women she said “I don’t protest because I am not a victim”.
And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the heart of the issue!
Part 3: Apparently racial tension, social inequality, and VAST differences in the treatment of minorities are made up.
So here is where I get EXTREMELY frustrated with Ms. Lahren and the like… these people genuinely think that the stories of struggle from minority communities are made up! Like we had a convention and got together all the Latinos and the African Americans and the LGBTQ community and had a genuine conference and decided we were just gonna make shit up!
Apparently, slavery wasn’t that big a deal. The Jim Crow south wasn’t that bad. The tone that Ms. Lahren uses implies that Emmit Till wasn’t a victim, The Freedom Riders earned their own ass whooping because they were protesting perceived oppression, and I guess people calling Malia Obama a effing monkey isn’t racism at all, what do you say Tomi? Just a little light teasing? What about the LGBTQ community? Are they making Stonewall up? Trevor wasn’t murdered? All those Latinos in Arizona and humiliated because the Governor made it legal to demand a person show law enforcement their papers?
The implication that the oppression of minority communities isn’t real absolutely boggles my mind, this idea that minorities and people of color WANT to be treated like they are some how less than in the only nation they have ever known just makes no sense to me. Do you have any idea how desperately I’ve wanted to be white at different points in my life? When I was a kid and the other kids laughed at my hair, when teachers in school asked me the “black perspective” on a social studies lesson, when the boy I liked when I was in Junior High told me his family didn’t support “race trading”. When my high school college councilor told me not to be so opinionated lest I run the risk of appearing like the “mad black woman”. I don’t want to be a victim you evil bitch, I want to be acknowledged as a fucking human!
How dare Ms. Lahren and her fellow “alt-right” deplorables decide that because they don’t share my feelings, they aren’t real. Ya know what, I’ve never been kicked in the nuts does that mean that it doesn’t hurt? I mean my goodness, it’s not even that she is complicit in some really awful behaviors in our country, it’s the fact that she is arrogant enough to think that she gets to speak for me! Or for minorities in general. Ms. Lahren I really hope you take this personally, FUCK YOU!
I usually pride myself on being more articulate, I promise I tried so hard, but for this woman who knows nothing about anything other than her own angry life, to talk about people like me as if we are somehow actively trying to “play the victim” or as though we like being shot at, beaten, harassed, and humiliated is just sickening.
Someone explain it to me, because genuinely I want to understand! How on earth does that make any sense!?
Well now I need a stiff drink. Where’s the Whiskey?