Trevor Noah Steps It Up Against Tomi Lahren

Tomi LahrenLast Wednesday, Trevor Noah of The Daily Show interviewed far-right video’s “It Girl,” one Tomi Lahren. Ms. Lahren’s bile-filled screeds against the evils of liberal America are hugely popular right now on social media. (Shouldn’t we change that description to “antisocial”?) She comes across as the Muppet Babies version of Ann Coulter.

It has apparently been widely shared among Noah fans, who appreciate his unflappable demeanor, and among Lahren fans, who like it whenever someone uses a vicious manner to expresses hateful sentiments they admire. (Oh, yes, does that make them feel strong.) Tomi Lahren also lies, which her audience no doubt loves, as well.

Dish It Out vs Take It

The lies begin immediately, with Lahren claiming she’s “not angry.” Well, then she does a good job playing it on TV (and she’s well aware that constantly-fueled rage is what her intended audience feeds upon).

As is usual with far-right media figures, Lahren’s untruths and deliberate distortions don’t cease. They become something like Phil Spector’s Wall Of Sound, with constant delivery and repetition of falsehoods substituting for argument. Throw in a little flag-decal patriotism, and the effect means to convey that people On God’s Side have so much data to back them up, their bomb-droppings are irrefutable.

With immense patience and charm, Noah sets about defusing them. It’s a terrific performance. He addresses each of her bogus claims and false equivalencies. I won’t spoil any of his jokes (and the best ones seem to fly right over Lahren’s head), but here’s one example of his tone.

Tomi Lahren considers BlackLivesMatter to be essentially a violent subversive organization, morally equivalent to the KKK. To “prove” this, she cites instances of destruction and murder committed by self-identified BLM supporters. Noah counters that these are the actions of individuals, and the movement does not advocate violence (which is true). Nope, says Lahren, if someone says your movement inspired their hatred, your movement is hateful.

Noah then asks about the KKK and Trump — by Lahren’s logic, isn’t Trump responsible for the KKK’s resurgence? Even if you haven’t watched the video yet, you already know her answer. No! Trump is good! BLM bad! Etc. We’ve heard this record before.

Tomi Lahren’s Damn Lies and Statistics

Tomi Lahren soon floats a statistic so baffling, the audience gasps; a black person is 18.5 times more likely to shoot a police officer than get shot by one. She then claims the 18.5 number is a statistic “no one wants to talk about.” Noah deftly changes the discussion point.

That multiplier 18.5 stuck in my head for a day. Surely, it can’t be true?

Of course, it’s not; and, as Gore Vidal once said elsewhere, it would make a good project for a course in logic. What on Earth can she mean? Well, for one, this statistic actually refers to the probability of any given police officer being shot by a black person, versus the probability of any given unarmed black person being shot by a police officer.

Since there are vastly more black citizens in America than police officers, the number starts to make sense. While policing is not among America’s most dangerous jobs, it does carry some risk, more so than that of the average citizen being killed by a cop.

Look at it this way: shouldn’t the police have a far higher risk of being shot by criminals than you have of being shot by officers? In that context, 18.5 seems amazingly low. If air travel was only 18.5 times less likely to end in explosions than space rockets, none of us would fly again.

The statistic comes from author Heather Mac Donald, who has long written that excessive police violence against minorities is a myth. As she has a clear ax to grind, her number is suspect, but I’ll use it for the sake of argument.

A Simple Test

The argument then becomes: how much more likely is a police officer to be shot by a non-black person than a non-black person to be shot by an officer?

Happily, a programmer named Joseph Atkins-Turkish has read Mac Donald’s work, and done the computations for us, Next Time You See a Racist Abuse Statistics, Here’s How You Call Them Out. Surprise, surprise! Using Mac Donald’s numbers, an officer is 124 times more likely to get shot by a non-black person than a non-black person is to be shot by an officer.

I realize this is Mac Donald’s sin. She is a published book author and contributor to publications like the Wall Street Journal, while Tomi Lahren is merely a young twerp kissing instant celebrity’s rear end. The one knows she is lying; the other blithely repeats this lie. Still, from my perspective, it’s hard not to fault them both.

Noah’s Better At Being Serious Than Funny

I have not watched The Daily Show much since Noah took over. To be honest, I never watched it much before, as I haven’t had cable in 10+ years. But I’d come across the occasional Jon Stewart segment online which had some bite to it.

Most Americans probably first saw Trevor Noah, as I did, on a Daily Show segment where Noah played a game called “Spot the Africa” — showing thriving cities and broken slums, asking Stewart to pick which one was America and which one Africa. The joke was that we tend to stereotype Africa as though it hasn’t changed in the last half century.

The appeal of that segment no doubt helped Noah land the Daily Show anchor gig. How’s he done? It’s a matter of opinion.

Larry Wilmore

Myself, I preferred seeing clips from Larry Wilmore’s Nightly Show — Wilmore’s an older fellow, like myself, and his sense of humor just gels with me more.

Plus, Wilmore got fired, largely because he wasn’t picking up the antisocial media “traction” Noah does. I’m still plenty mad at Comedy Central about that. We could have used Wilmore during the general election — and I think the added viewership during election season would have translated into more people coming to appreciate Wilmore’s dry wit.

But, that’s not Noah’s fault, and I should stop resenting him for it. Does his tenure on The Daily Show need time to find its own rhythm? Surely it does. Will they find it? Who knows.

His skilled, polite (on his side, at any rate) debate with Tomi Lahren shows one direction the show might go in. Noah’s “Spot the Africa” segment was serious underneath the irony. His interview here is deadly serious, yet he unearths humor in it. This might be his superpower! Let’s hope so.

7 thoughts on “Trevor Noah Steps It Up Against Tomi Lahren

  1. Ugh. “Give use for it for the sake of argument.” That’s what happens when three sentences collide in your head as you type. My bad.

  2. Thanks for the article Master Filmore

    Off Topic:
    Was in a Dollar Tree today. An employee was telling another employee, “…naw, next year is going to really be great. The greatest…just wait and see.” I can’t help but think she was/is another uneducated Trump follower.

    • Thank you for the comment, Master Brown. I have the honor to be   Sir   Your obed. servt, J. Fillmore.

      I’ve witnessed the same thing in dollar stores and gas stations. It’s fuckin’ bananas. I don’t know how to explain it. Did you expect this to happen in your lifetime? I sure didn’t. It’s crazy!

  3. Yeah, in growing up and going to public grade school, it was en vogue to be jokingly anti-president. It wasn’t really that serious, but we were all aware President Nixon was, here in California, not very loved.
    So it was ‘in’ to scrawl, “flush twice, its a long way to Washington” on the restroom wall, in pencil.
    Now maybe some traditions can be reborn.
    I am not advocating damage or full defacing of any property (no sharpies, no chiseling), just I think its overdue for there to be a noteworthy, grass roots, backlash to the results of our own apathy.
    We may have to wait a generation or two (again).

    The pendulum needs to really swing both ways to work. I’m losing hope it will ever be allowed to swing far enough left. I’m afraid what base Hillary had was largely well intending but (far too) moderate feminists. That just isn’t going far enough. Feminism can be as restrictive as any single-issue approach to politics.

    Hmm. Pandora?

    • We had that joke, too! A few years and couple of presidents later, but same one.

      I put that humor in the same category as “Mad Magazine” and some of the more witty satire in Python (even a adolescent gets the “if she weighs the same as a duck, she’s a witch” bit). It’s kids learning that not all adults deserve admiration. All humans deserve respect, possibly (the new Oval One tests this theory), but some do blindly arrogant, self-serving things.

      The flip side of that is when teens grow up to be adults who think “all politicians are liars.” Which is why a good civics teacher is important. So teens learn that policies do matter, and some policies you support more than others. That’s something even most adult voters don’t know! I was lucky — I had some great civics teachers.

      The pendulum is scary right now. It’s like the one with the blade in the Poe story, getting closer. Especially that we see it all over the world, especially here and Europe. We try to convince the people willing to listen, I gues …

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