Another day, another victim of the far-left’s relentless campaign to regulate away “controversial” thoughts. This time the victim is Megyn Kelly, the perpetrator NBC News, and the thoughts not all that controversial.
On Tuesday, Kelly made a decision she is surely regretting. The on-air talent opted to share her unfiltered thoughts with a room full of people and to millions of viewers of home. These thoughts happened to pertain to race, and they met extensive pushback.
Weighing into a debate about the alleged incivility of certain Halloween costumes, Kelly argued that there’s nothing racist about a white woman who, in admiration of, and respect for, Diana Ross, might darken her skin to look more like the singer.
Her commentary met a lot of angry pushback. People accused Kelly of defending the historical practice of blackface, in which white actors would paint their skin black in order to exhibit and act out terribly cruel and unfair black stereotypes.
If she had in fact been defending such a practice, the outpouring of outrage would fit the crime. But far from doing so, Kelly was questioning why people attempting to imitate a performer they idolize would be considered racist. Her question is a good one.
Racism is a belief that one race is inferior to another. A white child who comes home from seeing “Black Panther” enthralled by the story and dreaming of being T’Challa — in real life, or on Halloween — is not a racist.
It’s reasonable to conclude that, given the history of blackface in our country, perhaps darkening one’s skin — out of admiration or not — is unwise, inadvisable, and insensitive. But context, in this and in all things, is key. There is simply no way to reasonably conclude that wanting to emulate someone you admire, who happens to be black, is racist. To equate the two is in fact to erase all meaning from the word “racist” and to demean the experience of victims of actual racism.
Kelly should have couched her remarks in a clear condemnation of the practice of blackface. But ignorance, as Ben Shapiro pointed out in a refreshing column, is not racism. It’s also not a capital crime. Also, far from defending herself or doubling down on her comments, Kelly issued a genuine and full-throated apology.
In on-air remarks on Wednesday, she began by simply saying, “I want to begin with two words: I’m sorry.” She went further: “I learned that, given the history of blackface being used in awful ways by racists in this country, it is not okay for that to be part of any costume, Halloween or otherwise.”
Clarifying her beliefs, but also her intentions, she explained, “I have never been a PC kind of person, but I do understand the value of being sensitive to our history, particularly on race and ethnicity.”
“The country feels so divided,” Kelly said, “and I have no wish to add to that pain and offense. I believe this is a time for more understanding, more love, more sensitivity, and honor. And I want to be a part of that.” She concluded with a note of gratitude: “Thank you for listening and for helping me listen too.”
If the left were truly interested in persuading people of the merits of their viewpoints, Kelly’s apology should have been counted as a slam dunk, an unparalleled victory. She humbly thanked her critics for exposing her ignorance, for educating her, and for explaining where she went wrong. She recanted her opinion, and expressed her belief in the importance of sensitivity about race and ethnicity.
But the left isn’t interested in persuading; it’s interested in regulating through shame. NBC has thrown their talent to the wolves, and it’s only the most recent example of a network or publication that opts to sacrifice one of their own rather than standing up for the values of a free and open exchange of ideas.
NBC had an opportunity here to demonstrate to their media peers and the country as a whole that they tolerate dissent within their ranks. They hired Kelly to express her opinion, and should have defended her as she did so, especially given her apology.
Instead, it looks like the network has instead chosen to confirm what we already know: holding and expressing opinions that contradict the “liberal” zeitgeist is a fireable offense. Dialogue is out of style.
So let’s just take the final step. Cancel the morning shows, and instead issue a daily list of talking points everyone in the world must agree to, or else.