Everybody Lay off Janeane!

I like her. And yes, she is funny. If you’ve only seen her on political talk shows, you’re going to have to take my word for it.

I did a show with her in NYC the other night, and she was delightful. A small room in the West Village, packed with people, everyone laughing. She’s a comedian, and a good one. I prefer her more personal material to the political stuff, but that’s the way I feel about most comedians. After the show we spoke, and at one point I reminded her that I’m kind of right-wing. “That’s you’re problem,” she said, and then we got back to the friendly talk. We went on to have a great conversation and share some laughs. On a personal level, I always have a good time with her, and you would too. Believe me.

Here’s my point: I sense a little misplaced anger over her comments about the tea parties. It strikes me as a Captain Renault-like expression of shock. In order to take great offense at what she said we have to ignore the fact that the very same thing is said, in more subtle ways, every day. The left never stops accusing the right of racism.

Also, she is not a politician-she is asked to give her opinion on TV because she is blunt and opinionated. Speaking tactfully is not something we should expect of demand from entertainers-in fact, we should encourage just the opposite. I for one can appreciate a good right-wing nut job comedian, who crosses boundaries and says things that other people are thinking, but does it in a way that would be unacceptable for a politician. That is why it is shocking, and that is why it is fun. Maybe not funny, but fun-to the right wingers in the back of the room who are glad that somebody is saying the things that they wish they could say.

Her message was not to people on the right-it was to her fellow lefties. She was saying “Stop beating around the bush here-let’s call this what it is.” So that is what she thinks. Glad to hear it. I am always glad to hear an unfiltered position.

Here’s the thing; everything Janeane said is what people on the left already think. They have been saying it right to your face, in creative ways, for years. Remember when the candidate Obama repeatedly spoke about his being a long shot for the election because “he has a funny name” or because he “doesn’t look like those other presidents on our money,” what do you think he was saying? He was saying that a large portion of our country is racist. He was talking about you. He was trying to shut his critics up even before they started. And it worked. Almost no one called him on it.

So don’t get upset when someone says it out loud. You should be glad someone finally said it-now you can answer the charge. You don’t want to have to answer the charge? Why not? It’s out there.

Conservatives will even buy into this. They will say, “Well, I know that there is still a lot of racism out there, but…”

That’s the problem. People are unwilling to declare that it’s over. It’s done. The number of Americans who believe one race is inferior to another is so small that they are not worth discussing. They are silly people. And they have no power.

I like Morgan Freeman’s position. On “60 Minutes” a few years ago, he declared Black History Month “ridiculous,” prompting this question:

Mike Wallace: But how are we going to get rid of racism?

Morgan Freeman: Stop talking about it.

I like that. Let’s just stop talking about it. But in order to stop talking about it we are going to have to talk about it for a little while. To declare that it is over. It has gone away.

Oh, I know what my friends on Big Hollywood will say. “Racism is alive and well-on the left!” Yes, but even that is fake racism. There is an obsession with race, certainly, but only so it can be used as a weapon to intimidate. It’s a way to stop debate even before it begins. (If you watched, they tried it with Andrew Breitbart on HBO’s Real Time. He wouldn’t let it go. He essentially said “Let’s do this-let’s put it out on the table.” Things got electric, for a couple of minutes. Then Bill Maher changed the subject.)

A lot of people agree with Janeane Garofalo. Even people who are right of center- which is why so many mainstream Republicans politicians want nothing to do with those tea party folks-they’d rather keep them at arms length. We should keep our ears open when provocateurs are being provocative. Don’t write them off as haters-they are starting a valuable discussion.

Let’s get it out in the open. Everyone who thinks being against taxes is racist, raise your hands. We won’t shout you down. We would love to have that argument in public once and for all. Right?