Creating a firestorm of debate over racial sensitivity and the nature of satire on the forum to which that sort of discussion is most suited—Twitter—a tweet from the @ColbertReport account has sparked an online movement calling to “#CancelColbert.” The since-deleted tweet, which read, “I am willing to show #Asian community I care by introducing the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever,” was a quote taken from Wednesday’s show, during a segment mocking Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder.
The joke was aimed at Snyder’s announcement that he would be launching a foundation dedicated to helping Native Americans, a people that Snyder clearly cares a lot about helping through relatively more cost-efficient gestures. But, as with most Colbert Report jokes, it was also aimed at “Stephen Colbert,” the satirical conservative pundit character whose professed inability to recognize race has often led him to make some pointedly clueless racist jokes—including dressing up in 2005 as his “beloved character Ching-Chong Ding Dong,” which Colbert called on Wednesday “part of the unique heritage of the Colbert Nation that cannot change.”
The difference between being purposefully, broadly racist to illustrate another’s only slightly more subtle racism is a nuance that, strangely enough, does not translate to a medium where 140 characters is the only mode of expression, or social activism is as simple as adding a hashtag. And so it wasn’t long before the “#CancelColbert” trend was born, and both @ColbertReport and Colbert himself—through his actual, personal Twitter account, @StephenAtHome—responded by, respectively, attempting to put the line back in its original context, and expressing outrage at that jackass, “Stephen Colbert.”
Responding through Twitter, also strangely enough, has not provided a sensible end to this dialogue, which remains ongoing and on the Internet.
As of press time, The Colbert Report had not yet been canceled, and Twitter was not overrun by people decrying the Washington Redskins.