Chappelle’s take on George Floyd is a stunner. What would a comedian say? What of tragedy plus time? Has enough time passed? Is this the time for humor?
But it is the time to hear from our favorite comedian on the topic. There are laughs, mostly in his use of some choice words for some of his news commentator detractors.
There is also deep insight. Chappelle raises the issue of Chris Dorner, a former black cop who lost his job when he outed police brutality, then found himself left to express his rage in the only way he could. After a violent rampage, Dorner hid in a mountain cabin, but then when found, drew 400 police officers who proceeded to extract their revenge.
It’s the reason why the cops should understand the reaction to Floyd’s death. People on the streets are expressing their rage and it’s a diverse crowd of people who should have their say. The streets should be allowed to speak, Chappelle said.
People turn to their favorite comedian because comedians don’t lie to them, he added. Not like every other institution in America. When they’re good, comedians tell the truth. When they’re great, like Chappelle, they are moral leaders and comforters. We turn to him to hear him make sense of our feelings about Floyd, and the police, and America. This is what happens when the natural leaders fail us. We turn to our favorite comedian who knows how to fill our void. Surprisingly, it’s not with laughs. Just with a deep and pained silence that makes sense out of it all.
It’s the power of the best comedy. As Chappelle said, it’s called trust. In his little outdoor, socially distanced space in Ohio, it was an example of the public square, commanded by the leading comedian–not politician, not media person, but comedian–of our time.
Last week was a turning point week. America has found a path to renewal through George Floyd. Protests have upped the charges against the cops. The same old same old doesn’t work anymore. Violent looters can’t hijack the moral vision. Even Trump can’t reverse the trend toward reversing racism. Too bad for him. Now he can’t use racism anymore without really appearing racist. There’s no cover. And so the Republicans who have been quiet are speaking out, and ashamed. Trump is toast? Looks like it.
My guest is Filipino American history professor Daniel Phil Gonzales of San Francisco State University.
This edition features my talk with Philosopher Theodore Schatzki about whether the U.S. is too big to fail, meaning the government should just go ahead and prop up all individuals and small businesses–just as it catered to big business since day one of the Trump administration. Also, virtual graduation week is coming to Harvard. Here come more briefs in the big legal battle over Asian admissions. But for you Classes of 2020 everywhere, my thoughts. No one invited me to speak like they did more than 40 years ago. That’s all right. Read it here. And then listen to the podcast. Some reports say it will take $10 trillion to save everybody economically. But that’s better than letting a large fraction die, don’t you think?