Cancel Colbert Twitter trend pulls focus from real issues

Nobody, least of all Colbert, was really supporting the “Ching Chong Ding Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever,” but the “Redskins” remain a team in a professional league with merchandise selling a racist name that has lasted too long. 

Patrick Barry, [email protected], is a senior anthropology major.

The trend #CancelColbert blew up on Twitter March 27. The trend was started by Suey Park, a Korean American feminist social media activist known for #NotYourAsianSidekick. Park started her campaign against Colbert in response to a tweet that appeared on The Colbert Report promotional Twitter account, which is not run by Colbert.

The Tweet in question read “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.” 

The Tweet was taken out of context from a segment in a recent episode where Colbert satirized Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder for establishing The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. Colbert satirized Snyder’s attempt to be sensitive to Native Americans in the wake of criticisms of the racist mascot.

The central issue with Snyder’s attempt was that he used the term “redskins” in a foundation for Native Americans. To satirize how offensive Snyder’s move was, Colbert mockingly made his fake insensitive charity for Asians. The most inflammatory part of Colbert’s satire was posted on Twitter and provoked the anger of Park. 

The #CancelColbert movement has given media attention to a woman who has stolen attention from the original problem. The original issue is that Snyder refuses to consider changing the name of a team to something other than “Redskins” and in an attempt to make the public forget the controversy, established a thoughtless foundation that continued to use the term that people found offensive. 

She stole the spotlight from the Redskins renaming fight. Native Americans are a marginalized group in the United States in a way no other ethnic group can compare,  and since Native Americans represent less than two percent of the United States’ population, it makes them too easy to ignore. A mascot like the Redskins needs to be changed, and satire that captures the attention of millions of viewers is a good way to get attention to the problem.

Park is not only upset by the tweet that was out of context, but is also against the satire. She understands that the intent behind what she found offensive was to use humor to expose racism, but disagreed with that method of activism, and has expressed opinions that are problematic because they misrepresent the goals of feminism.  

In an interview with Josh Zepp of the Huffington Post, Park stated that she wasn’t going to listen to the opinion of a “white male.” This is not appropriate ideology to accomplish any of the goals of feminism.

Feminism is about gender equality, which is not achieved by exclusion of any kind for any reason. People do not choose to be born any color or gender so why should they be treated differently because of that? This ideology is part of why feminism matters. 

Park is trying to represent Asian women, a group she feels is not represented properly. Her methods are too radical and seem to provoke criticism and anger as opposed to thought or change. Given her goals, Park should be engaging in women of color feminism. 

Color feminism is one branch of feminist theory. Through this theory, oppression is defined by the invisibility of individuals who are at the intersections of social identity categories. This framework would be most appropriate for a situation like this, where multiple identities are involved, such as Native Americans, Asians, whites, women and men.

In this framework, social change is supposed to happen because of praxis (practice as applied to theory), travel between social realms, recognition of resistance and playfulness because mistakes will be made along the way. 

In all reality, she and Asian women were not the biggest victims in the events and neither was Colbert, who is capable of defending himself. The real victims are the Native Americans who have been left to face a team owner who refuses to stop using the team name “Redskins.”

Nobody, least of all Colbert, was really supporting the “Ching Chong Ding Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever,” but the “Redskins” remain a team in a professional league with merchandise selling a racist name that has lasted too long. 

Don’t criticize Colbert; he had every right to use his freedom of speech for satire. Don’t personally criticize Park; she had every right to voice her opinion. Criticize Dan Snyder and the Washington Redskins’ undeniably racist name and mascot and Comedy Central for taking the most inflammatory part of a work of satire out of context for promotional purposes.

Most importantly, be critical of how to address social problems. #CancelColbert took the focus from where it belonged and was not executed in a way that promoted the gender or racial equality Park is advocating.