by Scott Greer
Conservatives finally found a hill to die on in the culture war, and it’s in defense of a Netflix comedy special. Dave Chappelle caused a lot of controversy with his latest special, “The Closer.” His transgender and gay jokes inspired Netflix employees to stage a walkout to demand the removal of his act. Netflix continues to defend the famed black comedian in the midst of this uproar.
Naturally, conservatives are on Chappelle’s side and believe this backlash is another case of political correctness gone wild. That is undoubtedly true and we should oppose the cancellation of his comedy special. But conservatives have taken it a step far. They’ve turned Dave Chappelle into a conservative icon, the lone man standing against cancel culture. They’re acting like this one comedy special is the battle for our civilization’s fate. And most importantly, they’re overlooking Chappelle’s anti-white remarks and failing to understand why he isn’t cancelled.
The battle over “The Closer” isn’t exactly a fight between those conservatives and liberals. It’s an intraparty feud within the Left’s grand coalition—conservatives aren’t even a factor here outside of acting as overly enthusiastic spectators. Chappelle and his critics both share the Left’s fundamental principle of anti-white woke hatred; they simply disagree over whether black privilege allows you to make fun of transgender whites.
Chappelle makes this clear in “The Closer.”
“Any of you who have ever watched me know that I have never had a problem with transgender people. If you listen to what I’m saying, clearly, my problem has always been with white people,” he says. While Chappelle does say “gender is a fact” in the special, his main problem seems to be that LGBT people are creeping past blacks on the left’s victimhood totem pole. “Gay people are minorities until they need to be white again,” he jokes. He claims gays and transgenders oppress blacks and finishes the special with a promise to end transgender jokes—on one condition: “All I ask of your community, with all humility: Will you please stop punching down on my people?” Not exactly a principled stand in defense of freedom of expression and traditional moral values.
Much of Chappelle’s focus since the end of “Chappelle’s Show” has been on black issues. He ended his Comedy Central series because he felt whites were laughing too hard at his jokes about blacks. “The Closer” makes sure the audience knows that the comedian supports Black Lives Matter and believes that his people are oppressed by white supremacy. Chappelle released a documentary last year on George Floyd and police brutality called “8:46.” In that special, he called Candace Owens a “rotten bitch” for challenging the official George Floyd narrative. He also called Laura Ingraham a “cunt” and “regular ass white bitch” for criticizing LeBron James.
Maybe conservatives should learn that they don’t have to take abuse. They don’t need to make idols out of people who hate them.
Many conservatives will make the case that they don’t need to agree with everything Chappelle says to defend him. That’s a reasonable point and we shouldn’t purity spiral when important matters are at hand. But conservatives defending Chappelle aren’t the key factor in preventing his cancellation. It’s the fact that he’s black and shares the left’s core animating principle. Conservatives don’t have the ability to sway major entities one way or another.
Many on the Right promised to never watch an NFL game again for the league’s litany of offenses, but you can see conservative Twitter accounts post incessantly about NFL games every Sunday. Corporations know conservatives lack the institutional power to punish them and won’t stick with boycott threats. Netflix knows this. Several conservatives promised to cancel Netflix over the pedophiliac film “Cuties,” yet they still tuned in to watch Chappelle. Netflix’s decision to keep Chappelle has nothing to do with fear of losing conservative viewers.
Additionally, conservatives do not portray this fight accurately. Chappelle not getting removed does not mean cancel culture is in retreat. It just means blacks get a restricted pass to make fun of white transgender people. If you’re a white conservative who jokes about trans folks, you’ll still get cancelled. Because, unlike Chappelle, your problem isn’t with white people and you don’t have black privilege.
But even Chappelle is trying to compromise with his critics. While he refuses to apologize for his jokes, he continues to insist he loves the LGBT community, and he requests to meet with outraged Netflix employees to soothe their concerns. It’s not quite a walkback, but it’s not far off from it.
Ultimately, no one engaged in this partisan food fight, including Dave Chappelle himself, even bothers anymore to defend truth, freedom of expression, and traditional moral values against the LGBTQWTF/BLM onslaught.
It will be a cold day in hell when Chappelle shows any love for his ardent conservative supporters. He will still call them “rotten bitches” if they dare criticize Black Lives Matter or his athlete friends. He still thinks they’re racists and will be disgusted if they laugh too hard at his jokes. He still feels he has more in common with a trans Netflix staffer who accuses him of genocide than with Laura Ingraham.
Conservatives can still enjoy Chappelle’s comedy—it’s certainly superior to Hannah Gadsby’s drudgery. If we insisted on doctrinal purity from all of our entertainment, we would be left with just Tom MacDonald. And conservatives should definitely disagree with the backlash against Chappelle. But they should restrain themselves from turning a man who hates them into a hero. The American Right will gush over any minority celebrity who makes any vaguely right-wing talking point, no matter how committed that person is to leftist ideology. They feel that if a black entertainer criticizes gender ideology, no matter how tepidly and inarticulately, that makes it more valid than any argument from a white conservative. It’s rather pathetic.
The American Right should care more about defending its own side than falsely adopting entertainers as their icons. Chappelle doesn’t need nor want your support. Most lefty celebrities aren’t cancelled by cancel culture. The same can’t be said for countless ordinary conservative Americans who lose their jobs and reputations over social media posts. Those people deserve more of our attention than Dave Chappelle. They’re actually on our side.
Scott Greer is a writer and host of the podcast “Highly Respected.”