Stephen Colbert has made a living parodying controversial right-wing pundits. Now he has his own controversy. Last week, Colbert mocked The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation by creating his own racially insensitive foundation, TheChing-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever. Shortly after the segment aired, @ColbertReport, a Twitter account not run by Stephen Colbert, posted this tweet:
The world took notice and the hashtag #cancelcolbert went viral last weekend. People called for Colbert to be fired over the segment, claiming it was racist. However, Colbert had a lot of supporters, with fans pointing out that the tweet was taken out of context and his foundation was mocking the Redskins for their hypocritical foundation. So why did it go viral?
Today we live in a culture of sensitivity. Every December, we hear the complaints that we cannot say “Merry Christmas” anymore; instead we must say “Happy Holidays” to accommodate for those who celebrate Hanukkah and Kwanza. The University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux were forced by the NCAA to change their name, despite a lawsuit from the local Sioux tribe who felt honored by the nickname and wanted UND to keep the name (they lost the lawsuit). Some argue that even the Redskins’ name controversy may be an overreaction; a poll by the Annenburg Public Policy Center in 2004 found that 90 percent of Native Americans do not consider the term “redskin” offensive and several Native America high schools use “redskin” as their nicknames. Colbert aired his response last night, in which we defended the organization but agreed to shut it down, and brought Asian chief foundation officer James out to tell him he was being laid off. So was cancel Colbert and overreaction in an oversensitive culture, or do people have a legitimate point?