Joking in America

by Jay Nordlinger

I like a good joke as much as the next guy (I think), and Bill Maher is a very funny guy. He may be nasty and left-wing — but he’s a very funny guy. I wish his gift were differently channeled, put it that way.

Anyway, he said, “If you’re thinking about voting for Mitt Romney, I would like to make this one plea: Black people know who you are and they will come after you.” His audience exploded with laughter.

Okay, okay. I realize this country needs to lighten up (and I don’t mean that racially). I for one am always encouraging lightening up (even if I can’t follow my own advice, much of the time). The side that says “That’s not funny!” loses. Blah, blah, blah.

But: Don’t you think Maher’s joke might have sparked a little indignation from the “black leadership”? Shouldn’t the Sharptons and Jacksons have issued a word of rebuke — the kind of word they’re usually so quick with? Imagine if a conservative had made a similar joke! It’s not nice to joke that black citizens are vengeful savages — is it?

For that matter — this is a longstanding hobbyhorse of mine — why is there no indignation over opposition to voter-ID laws? What white liberals say, basically, is, “Black people simply can’t hack it. We palefaces may be able to show ID at the polls. But black Americans, no.”

There should be an explosion of indignation. How dare you. But there never is.

A funny country, especially when it comes to race.

P.S. Maher has a remarkable — certainly a distinctive — view of black people. Couple months back, he said, “In many ways — especially for progressives — [Obama] is too white for them. He plays golf, he’s too cozy with bankers. But when it comes to knowing how to fight, he’s black.”

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