By Maleeha Coleburn
The Daily Show is my favorite show on TV. Jon Stewart was my hero. Even though I miss him dearly, his new successor Trevor Noah is filling the void. Noah is hilarious and not afraid to call people out on their shit. It came as a surprise when I watched as he invited Tomi Lahren onto the show and attempted to have a productive conservation with her Nov. 30.
The two commentators are radically different.
Noah is a multilingual immigrant from South Africa. The biracial child of a South African mother and white father, Noah spent his childhood growing up under apartheid in Johannesburg, South Africa. Race and ethnicity are often leading themes in his comedy.
Lahren, on the other hand, is a 24-year-old woman from South Dakota. She produces Facebook posts dismissing what she calls the “liberal snowflakes.” Lahren currently hosts Tomi on TheBlaze, a conservative multi-platform entertainment network. Critics say many of Lahren’s commentaries are racist, a label she disputes. She has been a vocal critic of the 2016 U.S. national anthem protests started by San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback Colin Kaepernick and the Black Lives Matter movement.
That night’s sit-down between The Daily Show host and Facebook phenomenon was essentially 26 minutes of a venn diagram where the circles did not touch. They discussed topics ranging from Trump’s election to Obamacare to Black Lives Matter. In case you have not watched the video, please watch it.
Noah begins by asking her why she is so angry.
“Sometimes people just need to be called on their shit,” Lahren said. “You’re protesting a fair and free election, that to me says you need to be called on your shit a bit. Time to clear the streets, time to accept, time to move on, time to make America great again.”
It’s hilarious to me that she says this. Conservatives often seem to forget just how “peaceful and protest-free” the period following President Barack Obama’s initial election was. Obama’s election in 2008 was answered with violent attacks and property destruction targeted against minorities. The Southern Poverty Law Center provided a list of a few hate crimes against Obama supporters and minorities. I wonder what Lahren has to say to them.
Noah then goes on to point out that, “For someone who’s not racist, you have to spend a lot of time a lot of time saying, ‘I’m not racist.’” When asked to name her biggest problem with Black Lives Matter, she said, “It started with good intentions. The moment they started pushing up ‘Hands Up, Don’t Shoot’ — which is a false narrative proven time and time again — the minute that became their slogan, the moment protesting turned into rioting, looting and burning and militant actions, that’s when I lost respect for Black Lives Matter.”
Noah refuted this claim, saying rioting and looting happens a lot when there is a protest in general, not only during Black Lives Matter protests. I agree with Noah. There is a long history of people rioting, looting and burning after something simple like a sports event. These events, though, are not categorized as riots by the media.
Lahren, why are Black Lives Matter protests riots and not this harmful behavior?
“How are you labeling the actions of a few and condemning an entire group?” he asked. Lahren explained she saw it in Dallas when Micah Johnson killed five police officers in July and then said he did it because of Black Lives Matter.
Noah earned cheers from the audience when he came back with: “Just because you say the thing, it doesn’t mean that’s what it stands for. You’re the same person who argued on your show that just because Donald Trump has supporters from the KKK, doesn’t mean he’s in the KKK.”
Lahren of course disagreed with that.
Lahren later remarked, “To me, true diversity is diversity of thought, not diversity of color. I don’t see color.”
“I don’t believe in that at all when people say that,” Trevor responded. “There’s nothing wrong with seeing color. It’s how you treat color that’s more important.” Amen!
Now here comes the real kicker.
Lahren claimed the Black Lives Matter movement, which protests unjustified police violence against black people, is like the Ku Klux Klan, a white supremacist organization that beat, lynched and terrorized black Americans for decades.
Noah called her out on it saying, “Do you really believe you’re not being mal-intentioned when you say things like Black Lives Matter is the new KKK? Because you realize Black Lives Matter can’t be the new KKK when the KKK is still around. They have not vacated their premises, and most importantly, to say Black Lives Matter is the new KKK is to really minimize what the KKK did and what they stand for. That is not the same thing.”
Lahren then further criticized Colin Kaepernick for protesting the national anthem.
“[Kaepernick] says he’s protesting the anthem and the flag because of the oppression of black people in this country,” Lahren said. “I’d like him to further explain what he’s talking about. Is it against police? Is it against the government? I’m not sure what kind of oppression he’s discussing. I’d love to have him come on my show and discuss it with me. To me, when you make the flag and the anthem the outlet for your anger or the outlet for which you’re going to protest your country that you live in, you reside in and that you take $19 million a year from, I don’t think that’s the correct outlet.”
Has anyone actually read the national anthem?
And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.
Lahren’s comments on Kaepernick prompted Noah to ask, “What is the right way for a black person to get attention in America? How should a black person bring up their grievances? I just want to know if you’ve thought of the how.”
I applaud Noah for having Lahren on his show. I applaud Lahren for appearing on The Daily Show as I know it could not have been easy to sit there and be grilled. It’s important for people with different worldviews to break out of their bubbles and talk with each other. That’s how progress is made.
However, it is disappointing to once again be shown that there are people who constantly put forth false narratives and disregard issues other people may have. On this episode of The Daily Show, all I found was a person with white privilege question a black man’s worth with racist misdirection while he tries to prove to her that she is not allowed to ignore systemic violence against people of color.
Maleeha Coleburn is a freshman journalism and government and politics double major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.