DOC THOMPSON: I now know the pain of racism, and I'm curious if you do too, if you are now feeling the pain of racism. For years I've suggested that racism was in decline and yeah, there are some, you know, incidents that still happen with regards to racism, but most of the claims, [as] I've said for years, well, they're not really real.
But I realize now that I was wrong. For I now too feel the pain of racism. Racism has been dropped at my front door and the front door of all lighter-skinned Americans. The health care bill the president just singed into law includes a 10 percent tax on all indoor tanning sessions starting July 1st, and I say, who uses tanning? Is it dark-skinned people? I don't think so. I would guess that most tanning sessions are from light-skinned Americans. Why would the President of the United States of America -- a man who says he understands racism, a man who has been confronted with racism -- why would he sign such a racist law? Why would he agree to do that? Well now I feel the pain of racism.
Is Thompson being satirical here? Whether he is or not, a problem with that approach in this context is that a lot of people -- millions, perhaps -- take Glenn Beck's show seriously. They take it, that is, literally.
On his own station's web site (WRVA), Thompson's bio includes this bit:
Laughing and making people laugh are important. His medium of choice is of course radio. He dabbles in many styles with sarcasm and satire always present. Although he is candid and forthright he loves good spirited practical jokes which prompted a former co-worker to say “If only Doc would use his powers for good instead of evil.”
Thompson apparently updates that page himself, and he wrote the following there about his comment on Beck's show (the ellipses are his, not mine):
The media world and internet was abuzz with my comments on Glenn Beck and it illustrates Liberal hypocrisy beautifully! -- There are two main reasons my commentary on the tanning tax was so effective at stirring up the Liberals...
First the way I positioned it... “I know the pain of racism!” Liberals like to segregate for political gain and have promoted the idea that minorities have an exclusive on being the victim of discrimination.
It was also affective [sic] because...there is an element of truth to it. There is a double standard and I pointed it out with the very law they, at least partially, claimed was about leveling the racial playing field.
During all this they, of course, missed the bigger point. The satire on CLAIMS of racism...
So Thompson is claiming that his comment was satire, and that its object was "liberals" who, what was it? Oh yeah, liberals who "like to segregate for political gain and have promoted the idea that minorities have an exclusive on being the victim of discrimination."
I don't actually self-identify as a "liberal," but still, there's so much wrong there. For one thing, what "liberal" ever said that minorities are the only victims of discrimination? What liberal would disagree, for instance, that working class whites are victimized by classist discrimination?
But that's a bit off the topic of Thompson's comment, isn't it? He's making a point about racial discrimination against whites in general, and part of what he's saying is that although his cries of reverse discrimination in the "tanning tax" remarks were satiric, the "truth" is that whites really do suffer from racial discrimination.
Whether or not any of Glenn Beck's (no-doubt very white) listening audience understood Thompson's satire, he was fanning the flames of white racial resentment. Which is, of course, a longstanding common white tendency, at least among right-wing pundits and politicians. Aside from diverting attention from the real dangers of tanning salons, Thompson threw some red meat to misguided white people, the kind of white people who think that dark people are more of a problem for them than rich people.
H/T: Andy Kroll @ Mother Jones