If you managed not to follow last week’s Stephen Colbert controversy, bully for you.
If you missed it, while attempting to poke fun at the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, the Comedy Central satirist managed to offend large numbers of people on the Internet by talking about his not-actually-real Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation For Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever. It became quite a thing, with a billion online articles and cable news segments, and enough nasty Twitter arguments that it almost made you want to go outside and sit in a park by yourself.
But I want to highlight one article in particular, in the Wall Street Journal. This is Jeff Yang, writing about two of the organizers of the anti-Colbert movement, Suey Park and Eunsong Kim.
Meanwhile, references to the Washington Redskins and its owner Dan Snyder have essentially faded from view. There is not a single mention of either in Park and Kim’s Time.com piece, which is focused on the plague of racism among white liberals. Conservative firebrands like Michelle Malkin (famous for her outrageous book, “In Defense of Internment,” scurrilously asserting that the government’s World War II incarceration of Japanese Americans was warranted) seized the opportunity to publicly cosign the reframed narrative, without comment from the hashtag’s initiators.
Billionaire Republican Snyder couldn’t have asked for a better outcome — or paid for one.
Now look, the future of the Redskins name won’t be determined by Comedy Central segments or Twitter hashtag campaigns. But, to the extent that it matters, I think Yang is completely wrong. As long as the Redskins are mentioned in mass-market stories about racial offense that are consumed by a wide swath of casual fans and decision makers, I think that’s a bad deal for the local team.
And to my point, Colbert began his Monday night show — his first chance to respond to the outrage — on a therapist’s coach. Wearing an RGIII jersey, a Redskins hat and a burgundy blanket, and being counseled by actor BD Wong. (Watch it here.) This, remember, is in the guise of his oblivious and insensitive Colbert Report host. I just don’t see how that helps the team.
After the intro, and after many minutes of faux outrage and discussion of the controversy, Colbert closed the segment like this. (Watch it here.)
“But I am back, and Nation, I want to apologize,” he said. “For caring enough to try to bridge a cultural divide with my foundation. I thought we were ready. If I have a fault, it’s that I believed in the American people too much. Was I wrong to do that? But the people have called for canceling Colbert, and I am willing to meet them halfway. Effective immediately – and I cannot believe I am saying this – I am shutting down the worldwide operations of the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation For Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever. I have to. The saddest part is, because of all the attention, we raised a lot of money over the weekend. Money that will now be donated to Dan Snyder’s Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. Which Twitter seems to be fine with, because I haven’t seen [expletive] about that.”