Jewish World Review July 6, 2011 / 4 Tammuz, 5771
That's Racist as a Punch Line
By Jonah Goldberg
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "That's racist."
It's a comedic catchphrase these days, popularized by an online clip from a 2005 TV show "Wonder Showzen" on MTV2. It's not as iconic as
Across the country, it's a staple of schoolyards, Internet discussion groups, Twitter and sitcoms.
For instance, when a character on
She responds, "That's racist."
Perhaps the greatest sign that the punch line has gone mainstream came last week when
Ulaby relied heavily on
OK, so apparently the reason these kids say "that's racist" is that they're not too bright. But, wait, there's more. According to Ulaby, Bradley also believes that the students are using the joke to establish up front that they themselves aren't racist. Good for them!
Hold on, another explanation is that kids simply mimic the stuff they see on TV shows like "30 Rock" and "South Park."
I don't want to overanalyze, but it seems as if everyone's bending over backward to come up with the least obvious explanations for a pretty obvious joke.
For instance, here's Ulaby again, talking about Hannibal Buress, a comedian and writer for
We're never told. Instead, we get a
But what's the joke? We don't find out until a 14-year-old-boy says it plainly: "I think I or other people just sort of do it as a way of mocking people who are overly sensitive about race issues."
No, racism hasn't vanished. And the legacy of racism still has a long half-life.
But the simple fact is "that's racist" is the sort of thing those darn kids today say to make fun of their aging Gen X and baby boomer parents.
It's also a common joke among conservatives, precisely because we're used to being called racists for the weirdest things. If I write on Twitter something about how I don't like "Obamacare," some fellow right-winger will immediately respond with some variant of "that's racist!"
And that's the joke. And the people who've spent the last few decades screaming, "That's racist," not as a punch line but as a heinously unfair accusation or in an attempt to bully people, don't seem to get that the joke is on them.
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