Sarah Silverman: I can't believe I'm being accused of racism for criticizing Joy Reid

I can’t believe she can’t believe it. She’s over 50 and a lifelong leftist. She should be intimately familiar with what happens when you criticize a nonwhite person from the right.

Silverman probably made the common mistake of believing that her long history of activism for liberal causes meant she’d get the benefit of the doubt when scolding Reid. That’s not how politics works in 2021. The only litmus test that matters in proving your ideological bona fides is the next one.

For background on this, read Ed’s and Karen’s posts from last week. Ron DeSantis announced that he wants to form a small state guard unit independent of the federal government to assist with emergencies like hurricanes. Many other states, including some deep blue ones, have units like that. But liberals freaked out about it this time, accusing DeSantis of angling to create his own paramilitary force. With characteristic understatement, Reid called it “fascisty bananas” on Twitter and linked to a CNN story about it.

Silverman saw that tweet and replied by politely asking her to read the full article she linked, as it mentioned right in the piece that Democratic states like California and New York already have forces like the one DeSantis wants.

That was a litmus test and she failed — twice over. She accused a black woman reporter (accurately) of distorting the truth for political gain. And she sided with Democrats’ second-least favorite Republican, DeSantis, against a narrative liberals are trying to build that he’ll threaten democracy if he becomes president someday.

She’s been hearing about it ever since. Language warning here:

Silverman’s on an interesting political journey, if we can call it a “journey.” She’s never wavered in her leftist beliefs as far as I know but occasionally she starts to suffocate from the stultifying pressure people on both sides feel to conform to every political prejudice their side holds, from soup to nuts. A few years ago she called out Tamika Mallory, who helped organize the Women’s March in 2017, for admiring Louis Farrakhan. Last year she complained that cancel culture offers no path to redemption for the people it targets, ostracizing its victims without giving them the option of making amends. Earlier this year she wondered if she belongs to a party at all:

It’s no coincidence that Silverman and Dave Chappelle occasionally find themselves chafing at left-wing orthodoxy. They’re both good comedians and a good comedian will instinctively resist iconoclasm. Silverman in particular has always excelled at shock humor, to the point where she once did a skit in blackface to mock racist ignorance. (She apologized for the skit afterward anyway, of course.) There’s no shortage of hack comedians who are willing to swallow liberal orthodoxy in all of its particulars to remain on the team — turn on any broadcast network at 11:30 p.m. on a weeknight — but good comedians will always struggle to suppress the impulse to call BS when they see it. That’s how Silverman ended up tweeting at Reid.

She addresses the Reid episode at greater length in the first five or six minutes below. “Where do I get just the plain old news?” she says at one point. “That would be so nice. I’d like to draw my own conclusions sometimes. I mean, I’m interested in other people’s thoughts, but, um, it can’t only be that.” It’s 2021, Sarah. It absolutely can be only that.