The Washington Redskins have a name that is, at best, a bit insensitive. It’s rather like having a baseball team named the St. Louis Negros. The name really needs to be retired, and given that Washington, DC, once changed the name of the Bullets to the Wizards, I think they could probably survive changing the Redskins to…really, anything other than Redskins.
But the Redskins owner (which, let’s face it, is at least a better sentence than “The Negros owners…”), aren’t totally blind to the insensitivity of their name. So they came up with a foundation called The Washington Redskins for Original Americans. Because you don’t want to use an offensive word more than once in your name, really. I mean, if the St. Louis Negros had a group called The Negro Foundation for Niggers, well, that would just be insane! The Negro Foundation for Afro-Americans is sooooo much better.
Stephen Colbert took to the air to mock this nonsense a few days ago. In the process he brought back, through a clip, a deliberately over-the-top racial parody character named Ching-Chong Ding-Dong from Guanduong. He then announced that he was forming a charitable group called the “Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever”. Naturally most of the audience got the joke, had a laugh at the correct target (Washington Redskins owner, Dan Snyder), and then moved on. However for one person, a Twitter hashtag activist, or #activist, did not get the joke and decided she was going to destroy Colbert by creating and trending #CancelColbert.
This worked as well as you’d expect.
Now I understand the motivations of this activist were probably basically to get attention for her and her cause. I really, really hope that she wasn’t actually delusional enough to think that Colbert’s show was going to be canceled, because it wasn’t. It also kind of makes her into a stereotype. No, not the overly-dramatic Asian woman stereotype, but the hypersensitive, humorless liberal stereotype.
But even beyond that, what she’s managed to do, other than hurt her own reputation much more than Colbert’s, is to alienate potential allies. You see, when you agree with the vast majority of what someone does and says, which I’ll assume she does, since her Tweet mentions respect for Colbert, but you dislike, even hate, one thing that they’ve done, you do not set out to destroy them for that one thing. You set out to educate them, and let them know they’ve done wrong. That’s reasonable. Had she Tweeted something like, “Mocking Asians to protect Native Americans is not cool!” then, well, she still clearly wouldn’t be getting the joke, but at least she wouldn’t have been flying off the handle. Also, interestingly, American Indians are ethnically Asian, having come out of Siberia, so I guess one can argue that Colbert was giving Asians a double-whammy here.
I digress. I’ve seen this sort of tactic before, and not just from liberals. It’s happened with conservatives in the past, and is about to happen a lot more as we head into the 2016 presidential race. There’re conservatives who might be just perfect candidates for the Republican nomination, but, ooops, they’re pro-choice. THEY MUST BE DESTROYED. Or they favor gay marriage. DESTROY. Or, worst of all, once intimated that maybe, just possibly, if you’re a multi-billionaire, maybe you should consider, respectfully, you know, possibly think about maybe paying a little extra in taxes?
It’s also worth noting that the controversy of what the Colbert Report’s Twitter account said has waaaaaay overshadowed the genuinely clueless and offensive name of the Redskins charity, thus letting them off the hook. So there’s that. When your allies, or potential allies, say or do something you disagree with, that you think is stupid, or even that you think is wildly offensive, do not try to destroy them in response. Just take a measured response and explain why you think they’re wrong. Basically, to quote Wheaton’s Law, don’t be a dick.