#YallQaeda jokes barter in redneck stereotyping and ignore the more pernicious underpinnings of the patriot movement.
“How fucking weird is it that armed militia group in the early stages of what might become a standoff is being laughed at by the world?” tweeted renowned human rights lawyer and activist Stanley Cohen. Is it really so strange, though? The reaction is an index of profound structural racism, for which comedy is an insufficient critique. If leader Ammon Bundy and company are a joke, then the joke’s also on us: We’re in such a pitiable state of affairs that laughable loons can express themselves politically with guns waving while unarmed people of color are deemed threats and are summarily executed.
What’s even more troubling from a progressive perspective is that many of the tweets concerning the holdup in Oregon include low blows at white trash stereotypes — crackers, jerky, inbreeding, beer. In his critique of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s reductive Muhammad caricatures, Tim Parks wrote in The New York Review of Books that “the worst case is when satire reinforces the state of mind it purports to undercut, polarizes prejudices and provokes the very behavior it condemns.” Satire that deploys classism to skewer racists and conservatives is certainly such a worst case. Why not focus on their very real, very frightening beliefs?