Some weeks ago, Trevor Noah was named as the next host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central. And as usual whenever anything happens ever, a bunch of people got outraged. This would be an utter non-event except for how marvelously it demonstrated the hypocrisy of the progressive Thought Police. You’ve really got to love it.
Noah is a South African comedian just obscure enough to preside over the show as it hurtles into irrelevance, which it will inevitably do once its current host, Jon Stewart, leaves. But this is 2015, which means even the most meaningless and unremarkable occurrence isn’t complete without its attendant outburst of overblown political hysteria.
The announcement of Noah’s selection was swiftly followed by an equally uninteresting kerfuffle in which people with very little to do spent their astoundingly abundant free time digging up off-color tweets from Noah’s past. Turns out he’s made jokes about punching women and hitting Jewish kids with German cars. The resultant outrage was as unreasonable as it was predictable. People talked about boycotting the show. They wanted Noah dropped from the contract. “How dare a comedian make jokes?” They tweeted furiously.
Yawn. By now this stuff just feels like we’re following a script — everyone watching at home was setting a timer for the tearfully insincere apology that we all felt sure would follow like clockwork.
Except then something happened that isn’t in the script. High-profile talking heads rallied to Noah’s defense. Stewart and Comedy Central announced they would stick by their man. The comedian Patton Oswalt wrote a 53-tweet Twitter-screed mocking the absurd progressive insistence that comedy “should not be . . . privileged, misogynist or anti-trans, . . . or offend any feelings the joke listener may or may not have or have ever experienced in the past.” The Daily Beast published an article lamenting “the toxicity” of the Twittersphere’s hyper-sensitive “callout culture.” Suddenly, from out of the blue, well-connected people started defending Trevor Noah’s right to be an insensitive dipstick.
It’s worth stating the obvious fact that they were absolutely right to do so. Noah’s jokes were in poor taste, there’s no question. They were also crushingly unfunny. But this idea that comedians — or anyone, for that matter — should be forbidden from making fun of people is of course utter nonsense. It’s like saying carpenters should be forbidden from cutting wood. There’s a growing mob of ultra-progressive online commentators who sit around just itching to boycott even the most mildly distasteful opinions. They have been long overdue for a good, old-fashioned roast. Theirs is a mockery of an ideology, and it deserves to be mocked. It’s about time, in fact.
But of course, that raises the question: where were all of these bell-like voices of reason and clarity all those other times? Where were they when the harmlessly vacuous pop singer Meghan Trainor was torn to shreds by feminists for daring to suggest that women might enjoy marriage? More importantly, where were they when Memories Pizza in Indiana was all but burned to the ground after its owners were hounded into admitting their reservations about gay weddings? Hollywood didn’t exactly leap to their defense. There were no witty celebrity Facebook essays about how private business owners have the right to express and act upon their religious beliefs.
So what gives? What made the anointed royalty of the pop culture world so suddenly (and so briefly) come to their senses? Why does Trevor Noah get a pass while Memories Pizza gets abandoned to the ravening online hordes?
Well, my friend, I will tell you: it’s because our good pal Noah made fun of Jews. It’s because antisemitism is hip. It’s cool. All kinds of famous people are doing it. Whoopi Goldberg has blithely accused the Israeli army of indiscriminate slaughter. Playwright Tony Kushner calls supporters of Israel “the most repulsive members of the Jewish community.” Caryl Churchill’s play, Seven Jewish Children, features the poisonous lie that the Jews are the ones who gleefully “killed the babies” in Gaza. Antisemitism — often thinly veiled as distaste for Israel — is the prejudice du jour in elite artistic circles.
So the internet mob can rip Memories Pizza — or Meghan Trainor, or Benedict Cumberbatch, or Drew Barrymore — limb from proverbial limb with nary a peep from the celebrity glitterati. But when a minor comedian catches flak for telling Jewish jokes, well, that’s just unreasonable! This Twitter outrage thing has really gotten out of hand!
It’s not sexy or stylish to oppose gay marriage, or celebrate traditional gender roles. Defending people’s right to do so could actually put you on the outs in Tinseltown. But when it comes to making fun of Jews, celebrities are generally hip to the jive. So when Trevor Noah re-tweeted the barefaced lie that “Muslims don’t hate Jews. Jews hate Muslims,” he had plenty of stars in his corner. Folks who would never dare to speak up for Memories were happy to rush to Noah’s defense.
Such is the hypocrisy of the radical Left, laid delightfully bare for your viewing pleasure. Progressives aren’t in this to stand up for the little guy — of course they’re not. They’re in it to police what can and can’t be said. So a small business owner can get driven out of his livelihood for opposing gay marriage — no one’s got a problem with that. But if our right to make fun of Jews is under threat, that’s an outrage!! What is the world coming to?!!
What is it coming to indeed.
image illustration via Comedy Central