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America the land of opportunity, has given two pillars of left-wing cable news the ability to attack the character of the United States and their political opponents — and then present themselves as the victims when their viewers voiced their outrage.
CNN’s Don Lemon
Don Lemon managed to morph an assault on the character of the United States into a chance to portray himself as a victim. Late last month, he told The Washington Post that, while others may believe in the deep-seated goodness of America, “we knew, as black people” that racial violence is perpetually “lurking beneath the surface.”
“I don’t think America has seen enough people like me. I don’t think America intimately knows enough people like me,” said Lemon. “I don’t know if America sees black people and especially black gay men as fully human, and as deserving of the American Dream.”
It’s unclear that a nation that offers both gay men and blacks protected legal status wishes to condemn those groups as subhuman, a fact that seemed incongruous to top-rated Fox News host Tucker Carlson. “Don Lemon lives in a $4.3 million home in Sag Harbor, New York,” Carlson noted on the air. “He does not live in Section 8 housing” but chooses to move to an area where the population is “just 3% African-American.” Carlson’s camera crew then zoomed in on what he playfully called “the most troubling discovery about Mr. Lemon”: a photo of Lemon’s mansion showing a cookie jar of a man wearing blackface. “What is this symbol of hate posing as a cookie jar doing in Don Lemon’s kitchen?” he asked.
Hours later on CNN, Lemon responded curtly, “Let me simply just say this: If you think that a black person who doesn’t live in public housing can experience or understand racism in this country, well, that just says much more about you and your ignorance on these issues than it does about me.”
While Lemon’s remarks got good press, they didn’t really address Carlson’s point, which is that Lemon should consider himself a living embodiment of the American Dream. He grew up in Louisiana in the 1960s and ‘70s, and was child molested by another boy when he was a child. Lemon now hosts a prime-time show on a global cable news network and earns $4 million a year and lives in a multimillion-dollar mansion ensconced inside an elite community.
And Lemon’s choices justly open him to charges of hypocrisy. Lemon has lashed out at Megyn Kelly for saying people should have the right to wear the Halloween costumes of their choice (and face the consequences for doing so), calling the decision to wear blackface “equally disgusting and offensive” as donning the white robes of the Ku Klux Klan. “It deeply hurt people like me,” he continued. “If you even thought it was OK, or if you’re someone like [Virginia’s blackface-wearing Democratic Governor], Ralph Northam, then you owe people like me in this country a huge apology. … Put it where the sun don’t shine.”
Despite his success, Lemon often uses his platform to condemn the United States as a structurally racist nation dedicated to preventing minority advancement. He says that minimizing decades-old acts of youthful racial insensitivity would cause millions of American hearts to bleed. Yet Lemon’s privileged life allows him to deck out his immaculate kitchen in a well-to-do neighborhood with a blackface cookie jar. Rather than explain himself, CNN seemed to believe that Lemon had cleared the air with his identity politics-fueled, one-sentence rejoinder.
MSNBC’s Michael Eric Dyson
The same week Michael Eric Dyson, a Georgetown sociology professor, and frequent MSNBC contributor, claimed aggrieved status after he resorted to overt name-calling on the air. Dyson quipped to Nicolle Wallace that he would begin “speaking about the maggots — I’m sorry. The MAGA.” Dyson, an ordained Baptist minister, proceeded to brand his critics “mediocre, mealy-mouthed, snowflake white men who are incapable of taking critique, who are willing to dole out infamous repudiations of the humanity of the other, and yet they call us snowflakes. And they are the biggest flakes of snow to hit the Earth.”
“They are not critical; they have no race; and they don’t understand theory,” continued Dyson, who certainly seemed to ascribe racial characteristics to his adversaries moments earlier. “They are allowed to wax eloquently about the means and limits of rationality in this country and they couldn’t save themselves if the world depended on it,” he concluded.
While Dyson’s outburst won the nodding, smiling approval of his host and fellow guest, it engendered national backlash. The following day, Dyson offered a halfhearted act of contrition, preceded by dissembling and followed by playing the victim. Then he repeated the same victim sandwich during his return to MSNBC’s “Deadline: White House” that Friday.
Trying 2 be clever, I suggested MAGA followers were MAGATS (I should have said MAGA-ITES, but it doesn’t sing), & I didn’t realize it would come off as MAGGOTS. I’m truly sorry for that; ad hominem is not my usual way. Did it deserve all the “nigger” emails? Lord help us to heal.
— Michael Eric Dyson (@MichaelEDyson) June 24, 2021
“Black people have to bear the brunt of white rage, of white hostility. I myself, the other day — ” he started before interrupting himself. “Let me apologize on this program. I was trying to be cute and clever when I was talking about MAGA; therefore, ‘MAGAts,’ not ‘maggots.’ I didn’t anticipate that, you know, brothers and sisters who are white would hear it as that, so I deeply and profoundly apologize for that.”
Although the video seems to clearly indicate that Rev. Dyson did, indeed, intend the insulting aspect of his wordplay, he claimed his inadvertent use of a base smear had turned him into a victim. “But I have been hit with an onslaught of death threats and being called the n-word out of white rage for a mistake I made, for which I am willing to apologize, certainly. And what black people are often up against is the fact that … so much hatred is directed at us, so much white rage is directed at us.”
Dyson handled a nationally broadcast ad hominem by disingenuously claiming he meant no offense, offering up alleged death threats, and letting the matter die out. Dyson’s deflection followed the same three steps Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez takes to avoid scrutiny. And, as with Lemon, it proved more than enough to keep him in his network’s good graces.
Americans are not well served when thoughtful discourse is replaced with cries of victimhood. Dodging accountability by claiming to be more-oppressed-than-thou betrays a juvenile refusal to accept responsibility and short-circuits the rational discussion of issues. The mere attempt should expose the practitioner as attempting to defend the indefensible.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.