|The Colbert Report||Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
|The Word – Neutral Man’s Burden|
What I think distinguishes "satire" from other forms of humor is that satire includes serious social commentary. As is so often the case, Stephen Colbert makes a great point here. I wonder, though, how much his point really hits home for the white members of his audience.
Do you think many white Americans heard and understood the week-long revelations -- which was discussed in many public spaces by many pundits -- about common white presumptions regarding their own supposed neutrality?
Is there any hope that as more and more non-white people become significant figures in white people's lives, such contact will render commonsensical the truth that we are ALL influenced by our various social positionings, including that of race?
Will we ever reach a point where a majority of white Americans realize that in terms of race, they're not just free-floating individuals? And that instead, being categorized as "white" has a lot to do with who they are, and with how they think and feel, and act and react?
h/t: lisa @ sociological images
(And for those who can't watch the video, here are the relevant parts of the show's transcript.)
Stephen Colbert’s THE WORD segment from THE COLBERT REPORT for July 16, 2009:
Nation, I have never let past life experience get in the way of how I approach a situation. For instance, I don’t prejudge if a hot stove will burn my hand….who knows what will happen next time? [Shows burned hand to camera] But listen to what Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor believes.
[Tape of Sotomayor hearing]
“I can state very simply what I believe, life experiences help the process in the listening and understanding of an argument. . .”
[Cut back to Colbert]
Because of Sotomayor's obvious "things I have learned" bias, the Supreme Court's neutrality is in danger! Which brings us to tonight’s “WORD”: NEUTRAL MAN’S BURDEN
Folks, over the past 220 years the vast majority of our Supreme Court judges have been neutral, like Samuel Alito.
[Tape of Samuel Alito’s confirmation hearing. Justice Alito says:]
“When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account.”
[Cut back to Colbert]
Yes, he takes his life experiences into account, but he does it neutrally! So why is he neutral, and not Sotomayor? It’s because Alito is white.
In America, white is neutral.
Now for years, band-aids only came in only one color…white person. It’s standard “person” color. In fact it is so standard, that when I was a kid, in crayola boxes, it was the color called “flesh.” Now most Americans accept this [points at his own hand] as “neutral” without thinking about it.
And that is why the decisions made by all those white justices were not affected by their experiences; because their life experiences were “neutral.” That led to “neutral” decisions.
For instance, take the Dredd Scott Case. Those justice’s life experience, being white men in pre-Civil War America, some of whom owned slaves, in no way influenced their decision that black people were property. And the personal backgrounds had nothing to do with the all neutral court’s decision that it was legal to send Japanese-Americans to internment camps in 1942. Imagine how the life experience of an Asian judge would have sullied that neutrality!
Now, I am sure that Asians are neutral in Asia, and Africans are neutral in Africa, and Hispanics are neutral in Hispania. But folks, it doesn’t work here!
Now I am not saying, I am not saying that Sotomayor’s life story isn’t compelling. Everyone say how compelling her life story is.
[Run clip of three GOP senators saying how admirable her life story is.]
[Cut to Colbert]
It’s just if that if that compelling, humble, strong and admirable life story in ANY way informs her judgment, she will destroy our nation!
But folks, the thing is, she’s probably going to be confirmed anyway. So the best we can hope is to neutralize her personal background. The way Band-aids did when they reached out to minorities. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, “After hearing calls to make Band-Aides more inclusive of various skin tones, the company released its shear Band-Aid.”
So in addition to white band-aids, WE NOW HAVE INVISIBLE BAND-AIDS. Problem solved.
The same goes for the court. If you’re a white male like Sam Alito, naturally, everything that happened in your life just helps make you a completely neutral objective person.
But if you’re Sonia Sotomayor…. everything that happened in your life ….SHOULD BE INVISIBLE.
And that’s THE WORD!