Conservative YouTube personality Steven Crowder came under fire recently after a segment he streamed began circulating on social media. During the show, he and members of his team mocked black farmers in a way that many construed to be racist.
The footage shows Crowder criticizing a provision in the COVID-19 stimulus relief package that provides $5.2 billion for black farmers due to the impact of government-sanctioned discrimination. He referred to the provision as “reparations” for “colored farmers.” Others in the video made thinly-veiled references to slavery.
Co-host Dave Landau remarked: “I thought the last thing they would want to do is be farmers. Wasn’t that a big problem for hundreds of years?”
Crowder and his co-hosts then launched into exaggerated impressions of black people as farmers referencing the usual stereotypes. “Are people lining up out in the middle of cornfield Iowa for new dunks?” the host asked.
Landau, trying to mimic a black man’s dialect, said, “I planted a Hennessey tree, but it’s not growin’.”
It was a routine reminiscent of the old “Amos N’ Andy” in the late 1920s. YouTube later pulled the video for allegedly violating its COVID-19 misinformation policy according to The Verge.
— Jason Campbell (@JasonSCampbell) March 16, 2021
The segment elicited criticism from left-leaning individuals on social media. But even some conservative pundits noted that the bit was in bad taste. Right-leaning writer Carmine Sabia tweeted: “This abhorrent, racist bit by Steven Crowder is racist. Do not defend this. It is racist and pretending that it is not does not help anyone.”
The bill that gives minority farm owners preference for government funds is racist.
This abhorrent, racist bit by Steven Crowder is racist. Do not defend this. It is racist and pretending that it is not does not help anyone. https://t.co/iCpzKSctLP
— Carmine Sabia (@CarmineSabia) March 16, 2021
So what’s the deal? Should we be defending Crowder for this segment?
In a word: No.
Sabia was right, there is no reason to defend it because it was clearly in poor taste. It was the type of caricature that was prevalent on the minstrel show circuit. Conservatives already have a reputation for being racist that is mostly unfair. Bits like this don’t help.
Before I continue, here’s a disclaimer: I am not claiming that Steven Crowder is a racist nor do I contend he carries animus towards black Americans. I cannot read his mind, therefore I will not make that allegation.
However, the segment was racist even if Crowder did not intend for it to be. Indeed, while many on the right would jump to defend him, they would likely be just as quick to pile on if this were Cenk Uygur, and rightly so.
I know what you’re thinking: “But what about black comedians who make fun of white folks?”
I’ll do you one better – what about other white comedians who make fun of black people? Not only is that type of comedy much different from what we saw with the Crowder clip, it is also the same for other white comedians like Bill Burr and Gary Owens who have both poked fun at black people in their stand-up routines. In fact, there is an entire compilation of Bill Burr making fun of black people and you don’t see any backlash from sensible people.
It is clear that Burr and others are don’t target black folks out of any sort of malice. Just as with Chappelle’s comedy about white folks, it closer to good-natured ribbing than outright mockery.
So what now? Do we cancel Steven Crowder? Of course not – we do not need to participate in the same behavior as the far left. However, we also don’t need to defend the segment either.
We can criticize content without engaging in the same hysterical antics that we see among so-called progressives. Sensible people can debate the matter without pretending that videos like this will lead to a massive resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan or engaging in mindless whataboutism.
Crowder can choose to address the matter, or just let it go. Either way, the bottom line is that it is not wrong to point out questionable conduct nor is it wrong to refuse giving in to the same type of cancel culture that the hard left wants to foist upon American society.