Legitimizing mob thuggery on Comedy Central
Western democracies, the most prosperous and peaceful societies in the history of the world, are gradually losing their commitment to civil order, the set of norms and beliefs that differentiate them from places where you can't walk down the street confident that you will not be robbed, coerced, or killed by random thugs or predatory government. The rise of victimology, and the conviction that a purported "victim" is justified in violently lashing out at "oppressors," is poisonous.
Once people with any sort of prestige or prominence start justifying the use of violence to fight people and ideas they disagree with, the slippery slope toward a violent society gets an even steeper angle.
Last night, Trevor Noah, the South African comedian who inherited Comedy Central's Daily Show franchise from Jon Stewart and managed to lose a large part of the audience, seemed to make light of mob violence directed against a global retailing chain because some people took racial offense at one of its ads.
The specifics of the offense that sparked mob violence:
Several stores belonging to Swedish clothing company H&M have been attacked and trashed by members of Economic Freedom Fighters. They were protesting an advertisement by the firm widely seen as racist.
Noah's response was to laugh at the supposed triviality of mob violence that wrecked several stores in South Africa.
NOAH: "But first, you guys remember how H&M got in trouble last week over an ad for what some said was a racist hoodie. Over the weekend, the news of what they did got to the capital of black people, and they are not having it.
NEWS 8 [clip]: "Videos and photos are popping up all over social media of protesters ransacking some H&M stores in South Africa after the clothing company released a controversial ad the critics are calling racist. Earlier this week, the clothing company apologized for the widely criticized ad and removed the hoodie from its stores."
NOAH: "They really trashed that H&M. Look at that place. That's got to be at least $26 worth of damage easily."
Actually, the damage to multiple stores was serious:
The experience of having stores trashed certainly would discourage future investment (and jobs) on the part of H&M and other global retailers (and other businesses) in the locations affected. And the absence of foreign investment will eventually be blamed for the persistence of poverty. Noah has himself chosen to leave his native South Africa – a nation where violence rules the streets in Johannesburg and elsewhere – and make his life in the United States, where people enjoy a higher level of civil order. But he is doing his best to encourage the sort of behavior among his viewers that will eventually bring about a similar level of violence and chaos to our streets.