Hitchens refers to Sykes as "our Sable Sapphist"


From Hitchens' May 18 Slate column:

There is a mildly racist comedian in England named Jim Davidson who thinks it amusing to ask what West Indians said to themselves while using the black-and-white strips of the pedestrian crossing. ("Now you see me, now you don't; now you see me, now you don't.")* In order for this to be funny in the least--and I frankly despaired of it ever achieving that critical mass so essential to the life and definition of a comedian--it would have to be just as funny if a "white" person was traversing the road in the same way.

Not laughing yet? Me neither. Well, then, why is it so "edgy" for Wanda Sykes to say that Obama gets lots of praise now, but that if he messes up, it'll be, "What's up with the half-white guy?" This can be remotely hilarious only if said by somebody nonwhite, but almost every paleface in the audience seemed to feel it their duty to rock back and forth with complicit mirth.

Still, at least that weak opening stuff was in some manner launched in Obama's direction. The rest of Sykes' time was spent vocalizing the talking points of moveon.org and Air America. If I am in a taxi and Rush Limbaugh is on the radio, I ask the driver to switch the station or switch it off altogether. Limbaugh's life, like his appeal, is a closed book to me. But I presume that he was on painkiller medication for some reason before he began to become dependent on it, and before he became an object of our adorable "war on drugs." It's not so much that it isn't very funny to mock him for his Oxycontin habit. It's that it's near-impossible to imagine our Sable Sapphist lampooning a black equivalent of Limbaugh for an addiction to, say, crack.


Christopher Hitchens and Slate editors play dumb

Posted In
Diversity & Discrimination
Slate Magazine
Christopher Hitchens
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