On Friday’s broadcast of HBO’s “Real Time,” author and linguist John McWhorter said that comedian Dave Chappelle is being attacked by those who believe “what we must hold front and center is battling or striking battle poses against power differentials, and that must center everything that we do intellectually, artistically, morally,” and failure to go along with this thinking makes you “a moral pervert and you must be defenestrated and chased out of the public square.” McWhorter also pointed out that those who think this way have rather childish worldviews and we’ve repeatedly seen that this sort of thinking isn’t actually shared by most people.
McWhorter stated, “[W]hat a certain kind of person thinks is that what we must hold front and center is battling or striking battle poses against power differentials, and that must center everything that we do intellectually, artistically, morally, that is the main thing. There might be some other things, you can barbecue now and then. But that is the center. And if you’re not doing that, you’re not just somebody who’s annoying, you’re a moral pervert and you must be defenestrated and chased out of the public square. They don’t put it in those words. But unfortunately, that’s what they mean. That’s what we’re up against. And so, that’s why there are some people who think that there’s one truth. They think they have found the final solution. They think they are Kant. They aren’t.”
McWhorter later added, “Dave wasn’t battling power differentials. He wasn’t immediately onboard and that person from Ohio [who doesn’t believe that gender is a choice] needs to do some learning and some adjusting, but that means that you are a heretic and you have to be pushed out a window. Because you are not battling the power differentials. And what you see is that, there’s one thing this is. These people, people who do this about race, who do this about trans, who do this about anything, think of themselves as ahead of the curve. They think of themselves as indicating some sort of higher wisdom. Really, it’s a very simple way of looking at things, people like this, no matter what they’re arguing on the basis of, are telling us the way you would have thought of it when you were five years old is the proper way to think of it. That doesn’t work. Never will.”
After host Bill Maher noted the massive difference between the reception of Chappelle’s special among reviewers and the audience, McWhorter said, “We’re seeing this again and again. Defund the police. It says, oh, so sophisticated person and a person living in a dangerous neighborhood doesn’t want it, and there are more of them than there are the people wearing t-shirts saying defund the police. Or Latinx, I don’t have any problem with Latinx. But it doesn’t seem to be making any inroads into the communities where most Latinx people live. And so, you have this sort of educated dialect way of thinking, and that’s the case here, where all of these people, I think, to get back to this simplicity idea, they see that Dave Chappelle is a comedian, there are layers of wit and irony and attitude going on, and instead, we’re told to just read as if it was the ‘Three Bears,’ and we’re being told that that’s sophisticated. When really that means that these people who are so annoyed that anybody says some words or expresses some ideas are saying that most of America [isn’t] sophisticated. And yet, the last time I checked, they were arguing on the basis of disempowered people.”
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