Tomi Lahren, the so-called “queen of the alt-right,” has the intellectual curiosity of a dead gnat.
Regardless of what her Facebook follower count suggests, she is not at all remarkable. It has never been that difficult to sell racism to the masses––especially when it is presented in a package of thin, blonde, and White. Lahren didn’t need the help of Black men to assist her in her goal of elevating an ugly platform and poisonous rhetoric, but some needlessly lent their services anyway.
Lahren’s appearance on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah was not the “evisceration” that many argued it to be. What people watched was Noah present reason to someone who in turn opted to stand steadfastly in her stupidity. Like the parrot she is, Lahren did nothing but evade questions and regurgitate prepared statements when challenged, all before a national television audience. Some people wanted to think she was made to look dumb because it served some cathartic need. Unfortunately, when someone is willfully obtuse, looking dumb comes with the territory, rendering whatever momentary sense of satisfaction moot.
Defending his choice to interview Lahren, Noah told CBC’s The National, “It seems fruitless to some, but … the other alternative is to stay in those bubbles that you talk about, so why not have a conversation?” During an appearance on Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club, he likened the interview to Collision Course, a joint album from Jay Z and Linkin Park, noting, “It doesn’t mean you have to agree, but at least you’re in the world where you are hearing the opposing view.”
What kind of Black man asks victims of racism to afford a racist the nuance she does not deserve?
Can someone tell Trevor Noah how to get off of Sesame Street? We literally have an unabashed bigot heading to the White House. Do we really need to be hearing from someone with such a facile understanding of racism in America at a pivotal moment like this?
There is nothing wrong with speaking to someone with opposing views, but to speak to someone who has made it grossly apparent of how they feel is an exercise in futility. Lahren has compared Black Lives Matter to the Ku Klux Klan, America’s oldest terrorist organization. Lahren does not simply have different views; she denies Black people their humanity and actively mocks our pain and misfortune for profit. She is a racist and a simpleton who ought to be relegated to the dumbest blocks of Facebook from whence she came. Noah appeared to have done this interview for the sake of drawing much-needed attention to the show. So be it, but don’t describe an act of desperation as one of nobility.
Still pretending life is an after school special though, Noah went on to say that “racism does not stand up well to contact,” proclaiming, “When people are in contact with someone of another race… you find that racism doesn’t hold up.”
Plantation owners seemed to do just fine with proximity and so have the countless other number of racists in present day. To wit, Noah argues, “In America, where do they hate Muslim people the most? The places where there are none.” Noah lives in New York City, where bigots are actively attacking Muslim women.
As for Charlamagne, he, too, went with that ‘let’s talk to folks of opposing views’ stance in the case of Lahren. And though he tried to clarify his comments on Twitter in which he asked why some “woke” Black or Latina woman doesn’t duplicate Lahren’s success on his radio show, he still fails to truly grapple with the privilege to which his prejudice-harboring friend enjoys.
There are plenty of educated, progressive Black women contributing to the culture by way of their prose, podcasts, and videos. Maybe Charlamagne will highlight more of them on his radio show. Those women would certainly provide more useful dialogue than the sexist, homophobic, conspiracy-theory yielding trope that is Umar Johnson. However, that doesn’t change how much easier it is for women who look like Tomi Lahren and Black men willing to attach themselves to her.
Read the rest at ESSENCE.