One of These Is Not Like the Other
Timothy Sandefur is embarrassed:
So I was watching this insane video of Christopher Hitchens and Salman Rushdie discussing the War on Terrorism with Mos Def. And it’s amusing to laugh at the utterly hapless ignorance of “Mr. Def,” as he is repeatedly called—until you stop and wonder. Why is the black community not outraged by this? Bill Maher hosts a talk show to discuss the threat of Islamic terrorism and the Middle East, and he invites two world-renowned white male intellectuals and Mos Def? If this show had been choreographed by the Ku Klux Klan it could not have been more infuriating. Did Maher not have the phone number of a black intellectual? Were Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, Orlando Patterson, Julian Bond, Walter Williams, Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, John McWhorter all busy?
Here’s the video:
While I agree entirely that this is an absurd pairing, it’s most definitely not a racist one. Sandefur has apparently never seen “Real Time with Bill Maher.” The premise of the show, from its inception more than six years ago, has been to pair politicos and pop culture figures in discussion. (Whether the point of the exercise was to demonstrate that the latter are morons or that their opinions are equally valid, I could never determine.)
Here are the seven season openers.
February 21, 2003. Guests: Author Ann Coulter, actor Larry Miller, writer, radio host and professor Michael Eric Dyson, comedian Sarah Silverman, comedian Chris Rock. Topics: The UN, Affirmative Action.
January 16, 2004. Guests: Ret. Gen. Wesley Clark, artist Moby, Rev. Al Sharpton, actor Ron Silver, Rep. Darrell Issa. Topics: American values, Iraq, MoveOn.org, environment.
February 18, 2005. Guests: Correspondent Lesley Stahl, actor Robin Williams, former H&HS Sec. Tommy Thompson, Sen. Joe Biden, and actor Don Cheadle. Topics: On protecting sources, Jeff Gannon, on Interrogating prisoners, Iraq elections, Darfur.
February 17, 2006. Guests: Sen. Russ Feingold, commentator Fred Barnes, actor Eddie Griffin, reporter Helen Thomas, Iraq advisor Dan Senor. Topics: Cheney shooting, on the Patriot Act, Bush, Mohammad cartoons.
February 16, 2007. Guests: Fmr Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, fmr Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, TV host Craig Ferguson; via satellite, fmr Sen. John Edwards and basketball player John Amaechi. Topics: Developments in North Korea, Iran, and Iraq; global warming; Mitt Romney and Mormonism; Al Franken Senate campaign.
January 11, 2008. Guests: Entrepreneur Mark Cuban, fmr Court TV anchor Catherine Crier, fmr Bush Press Secy Tony Snow, Rolling Stone writer Matt Taibbi (election correspondent); via satellite, humorist P.J. O’Rourke. Topics: New Hampshire primary, electronic voting machines, Iraq troop surge, subprime lending and prospects for economic recession.
February 20, 2009. Guests: Financial Times editor Chrystia Freeland, journalist Tina Brown, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA); via satellite, Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX), journalist Brigitte Gabriel The economy, President Obama’s first month in office.
See the Wikipedia episode guide if you fear the season openers are not representative.
The pairings are, in most if not all cases, patently absurd. They include plenty of famous white guys who would, on the face of things, seem to be woefully out of their elements and plenty of black guys who would seemingly mop of the floor with the competition.
For what it’s worth, Mr. Def was really good in this week’s “House.”