When young white men are caught being racist on video, who is to blame: a longstanding tradition of racism or black rappers?
The viral University of Oklahoma video — showing members of the now-disbanded chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon chanting a racist tune featuring word "n*gger" — inspired MSNBC's Morning Joe hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, plus their guest and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol, to blame black rappers for including said word in their own music. The drunk kids are just repeating what they're hearing in these songs; who can blame them?
Jon Stewart can. And he did on Wednesday night's Daily Show, in which he unmercifully ripped apart the Morning Joe panel's argument.
First of all, he noted, rappers like Wacka Flocka Flame who have condemned the fraternity's actions shouldn't be "disgusted" with themselves, as Brzezinski said they should. The members in that video weren't rapping. It was a song of white men's own creation.
"That word predates rap," Stewart stated. "And probably folk. And thought."
But the Morning Joe team's argument not being sound isn't the only problem. The greater issue is their willingness to transfer responsibility to black people instead of keeping it with the perpetrators. "How come when conservatives talk about African-Americans, they say, 'These people need to take responsibility for themselves! Pull up those pants! Get a job!'" Stewart asked. "But when white people do something racist, they're all, 'Well, you can't blame them.'"
Brzezinski, Scarborough and Kristol should be embarrassed — at least Brzezinski was, when she tried to walk back her words on The Cycle later in the day. But even then, she tried to push the idea that a conversation should still be had about the words used in rap music.
In truth, the response to that line of thinking is as simple as Stewart put it:
And that's why this line of argument doesn't add up. By trying to blame black people for both their own actions and the actions of white people, it's becomes clear that no calls to action or university president's speeches will have an effect until people understand the different between a couple of racists acting out and real, deeply embedded racism.
Watch the full clip below.