Before You Get Pissed About Stephen Colbert’s Racist Tweet, Be Aware That It Wasn’t Him

Stephen Colbert outraged GIFGood morning friends! I see we all woke up with a fire in our bellies over that racist tweet from The Colbert Shows Twitter, but before we grab our pitchforks and our #cancelcolbert hashtags and go stomping off to storm his castle, there are a few things everyone needs to be aware of.

First, a little background. The tweet in question has since been deleted, but it said:

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

I understand your anger and offense, because that’s undeniably racist. The word ‘Oriental’, the pejorative use of stereotypically Chinese syllables likes ‘ching-chong’ and ‘ding-dong’…all the bases are covered. It inarguably crosses a lot of lines, but it was actually done intentionally. The real error was in the quote being taken out of context and posted in a stand-alone tweet.

On Wednesday Night, Stephen Colbert was doing a segment on the owner of the Washington Redskins, who recently opened a foundation to support Native Americans. In a bit designed to emphasize how very little that does to combat the inherent racism in the team’s name, Colbert aired a clip from 2005 in which he played a satirical, stereotypical ‘Chinese’ character named Ching-Chong Ding-Dong, and in character announces in the present that he’s ‘opening the “Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever.’

It’s a smart, incisive joke in context, but you really do need that whole set-up for it to come off, so putting it online via the @ColbertReport handle without either of those things was a definite mistake. You feel the intended offense at the statement without the aid of context to help you direct your indignation at the rightful target — the owner of the Redskins.

And even if that revelation doesn’t slake your bloodlust, you should be aware that Stephen Colbert doesn’t run the @ColbertReport account — his personal handle is @StephenAtHome, which was reiterated multiple times last night.



So how are we feeling? Okay? Still mad? We can get through this together.

(Image: mrwgifs)

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    • FemelleChevalier

      As an Asian, I am personally offended because the joke is perpetuating an inaccurate stereotype. Not all of us are Chinese/Japanese/Koreans so to call the Asian community as “Orientals” is offensive and dismissive.

      Although I have a cousin whose nickname is “Dingdong”, so I give him that.

      • Alexis Rhiannon

        I think the reason he chose the term ‘Oriental’ is because it’s so inarguably offensive that it assists the satire. Does that aspect of it lessen the offense at all, or did I miss the point?

      • FemelleChevalier

        I am familiar with his satire. But the problem is that some people WILL laugh at the racist joke towards Asians instead of the intended satirical message, which is about Redskins.

        Asians have always been the go-to subject for racist joke in America that everyone is okay with, and I find it a bit distasteful that some Americans tell Asians and Asian-Americans to “lighten up!” when they get annoyed.

        Let’s put it in another context. Will it be okay if, instead of Asians, the twitter said that Colbert is going to create a foundation for “Blackface United For N***er Sensitivity or Whatever?”

        Racist joke to combat racism is still a racist joke. My point is that if the indirect subject is offended, people should respect that and not tell us to shut up.

      • guest

        Agreed! There are other ways of making satire funny and relevant without stooping down to their levels. We need smarter jokes, not more racist ones.

      • guest

        I also felt uncomfortable with joke, fully aware of what the Colbert Show is and the context of the joke. And also felt wrong about the backlash that people who were offended by the joke are getting from others. Even if it was done in satire, does that automatically excuse behavior? Even with the intent behind it being good, does that give it a free pass as okay?

        I read an article over at Bustle that really connected with me on this situation.

        I completely agree with people saying that it is wrong that there is more of a backlash at Colbert than the Redskin’s owner. But maybe this is a discussion worth having as well!

    • Mila

      People are making too much fuss – Colbert rocks & I am sick of every possible group (not only based on race but also vegan/republican/hipster/geek/lawyer/etc ) getting offended so easily – roll eyes…

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