Commentary: Crossing the Line Between Comedy and Stupidity

One website’s feeble attempt at satire reeks of racism.

Posted: 03/21/2012 05:00 PM EDT
Allen West

Webster's dictionary defines satire as a literary work holding up human vices and follies through ridicule, scorn or wit. But a so-called satirical website called “Free Wood Post” recently posted something that was more hurtful than comical.

 

It’s a fictitious article about Republican Congressman Allen West called, “I’m Black by Birth, Not by Choice." The title alone is enough to make me want to click away from the page. But I resisted and proceeded to read it in its entirety. It contains an excerpt from a fake TV interview in which West discussed how he felt being a Black congressman during Black History Month.

 

The excerpt reads:

 

In light of this month being Black History Month, I feel no way involved with this negro celebration of half accomplishments and borderline Communist agendas. View the list of these “fearless” leaders of black America. Black inhabitants of America knew their place at the table, and knew they could not eat off the same plate of the more than welcoming white men and women of the time. These men, I use that term lightly, like Malcolm X pushed themselves into the homes of innocent white Americans. This action riled up the Negro, and scared the living hell out of people. I am no way apart of this community of transported Africans, I myself am an American. I’m a good ol’ boy from the great state of Florida, and a citizen of this great nation. I know God recognizes me as my true self, a proud, strong white man given dark pigmentation. God had to give the blacks at least one intelligent person, so he chose to give me dark skin. I curse my birth as a black man every day. I’m black by birth, not by choice. It will all be sorted out when my name is called, and I step in front of the great white Jesus himself.

 

You would think that the authors would poke fun at West’s politics as a Black Republican since political leanings are fare game when it comes to satire.  But it appears that, in this excerpt at least, West’s only vice, or folly worthy of ridicule, scorn or wit, as the definition explains, is the fact that he is Black.

 

In its classic form, as demonstrated by the writings of Horace and Voltaire, satire was meant to expose a character’s shortcomings with the intent of shaming individuals into improvement, or offering constructive social criticism using wit as a weapon. But instead, the weapon of choice here is racism. And the shortcoming that’s exposed is the fact that Allen West was born in “dark skin.”

 

Although West’s political beliefs may diverge from the majority of African-Americans, there is no concrete evidence that he views his own “Blackness” as a source of shame.  To the contrary, he is a retired Army lieutenant and husband who is raising two Black daughters.  When he came to Congress, one of his first moves he made was to join the Congressional Black Caucus. And, in contrast to what the shameful excerpt suggests, he commemorated Black History Month on the House floor by acknowledging the contributions of Black Republicans throughout history.

 

The website contains a disclaimer which reads: “Any resemblance to the truth is purely coincidental" and that it is "intended for a mature, sophisticated, and discerning audience." But after reading this hateful excerpt, reasonable minds would agree that there is nothing mature, sophisticated or discerning about the racism it spews.

 

Why would they think it appropriate to put such content into the public domain? The content may be fake but the hate is very real.

 

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(Photo: Doug Murray/Reuters)

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