Hey, Happy Fourth. I finally got around to “Hamilton.” It only took me five years. It’s easier to get into Harvard.
And guess what. My buddy Ishmael Reed was right. So why are brown and black actors playing the oppressors so cool?
That and a lot more on this episode.
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.
ANOTHER KIND OF TED TALK: If you’ve been following my series of talks with Philosophy Professor Ted Schatzki, you know he’s my old friend from college who I called for the first time in over 40 years when the pandemic hit. We had a reunion. Since then we’ve had 3 conversations. The first two he talked about the fear of civil unrest.
In our third conversation last week, the spark that set off the U.S. powder keg happened. The violence hadn’t started yet. But we do talk about George Floyd, among other things. The point is we talk and have a conversation, which is probably the best thing people can do with each other right now.