Stephen Colbert's 'Racist' Tweet Is Causing Fury Over the Wrong Issue

Stephen ColbertAre you following Stephen Colbert on Twitter? You may think you are, but if you're following The Colbert Report, you're actually following a Comedy Central promotional account, which posts tweets with no oversight from Colbert or his show -- Colbert's personal account can be found at StephenAtHome. This is possibly an important distinction if you were one of the thousands of outraged Twitter users who got so offended by a "racist" tweet from Colbert on Wednesday night, a #CancelColbert hashtag began trending.

Or maybe it doesn't matter who actually posted the tweet. The point is, despite Colbert referring to his "Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation" for the Asian community, the tweet wasn't worth the outrage. No one got mad when he said the line on the show, so why should a tweeted version be so different?

On Wednesday's Colbert Report, Colbert -- in character, as always -- mocked Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who announced recently that he would start a "Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation" in lieu of changing the team's name. Here's what Colbert said:

Folks, this move by Dan Snyder inspires me, because my show has frequently come under attack for having a so-called offensive mascot: My beloved character Ching Chong Ding Dong. Offensive or not (not), Ching Chong is part of the unique heritage of the Colbert Nation that cannot change. But I am willing to show the Asian community that I care — by introducing the Ching Chong Ding Dong Foundation for Sensitive to Orientals or Whatever ... and I owe all this sensitivity to Redskins owner Dan Snyder.

It was snarky, it was satire, it offended exactly zero members of the Colbert Report audience. When Comedy Central posted part of that routine on Twitter, though, the shit hit the fan.

Here's the now-deleted tweet:


Fury over the joke quickly gained traction online, despite Comedy Central's attempt at damage control:

 

 

Colbert himself has weighed in, albeit mildly, by pointing out that his show persona is in fact a character (one that's represented as an ignorant right-wing commentator):

 

If anyone made a mistake here, it was Comedy Central for posting the line out of context. Anyone who's mad at Stephen Colbert either doesn't understand the purpose of what he's doing with the Colbert Report or they should have been demanding that the show be canceled years ago instead of jumping on a convenient rage-hashtag.

Stephen Colbert isn't a racist. He's a political satirist who was making a point about Dan Snyder's open letter to the "Redskins Nation," in which Snyder basically says he wants to keep profiting from a racist brand while funneling cash to, as Rep. Betty McCollum, Democratic co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus puts it, "attempt to buy the silence of Native Americans with a foundation that is equal parts public relations scheme and tax deduction."

In other words, I completely agree with this comment from Salon:

The fact that a joke died on the Internet yesterday is not the problem here. The most unfortunate result is that now all over cyberspace – and regular space – folks are asking themselves whether or not The Colbert Report should be taken off the air instead of asking, “Wait, why are they still called the Redskins?”

What do you think of the Colbert uproar?


Image via The Colbert Report

television, twitter