Dean Obeidallah is an insufferable prick.
On Monday, CNN published a strident op-ed by the failed lawyer, turned failed stand-up comic, turned C-list media pundit condemning Bill Maher for having Milo Yiannopoulos as a guest on his HBO show. Now, I wholeheartedly agree with libertarian sex goddess Lucy Steigerwald that Milo Yiannopoulous merely is a stupid man’s version of Christopher Hitchens, but the mendaciousness on display when Obeidallah lists the litany of supposed sins committed by Yiannopoulos is breathtaking and warrants comment.
In Obeidallah’s spit-flecked and stentorian denunciation, he charges Maher with failing to “ask [Yiannopoulous] about his anti-Semitic comment that ‘Jews run the media,’ … [ask] why Yiannopoulos wore a Nazi Iron Cross when he was younger … [and inquire about] his demonization of transgender people as, in essence, sexual predators?” Never mind the fact that the first and third charge are merely Obeidallah presenting intentionally provocative statements intended as shock humor out of context, is he not cognizant of the fact that labeling every instance of a symbol that has represented Germany since 1813, (as well as having been appropriated as a fairly innocuous symbol in surfer culture) as “Neo-Nazi” is equivalent to labeling all people wearing fashion keffiyeh as radical Islamist Hamas sympathizers?
Ironically, only a day later, CNN would include the following graphic accompanying its latest attempt to foment a moral panic:
Context is key, indeed!
Obeidallah’s sanctimonious posturing is particularly galling considering the fact that in December of 2013, while a guest on Melissa Harris-Perry’s MSNBC show, he cracked a series of tasteless jokes mocking the fact that Mitt Romeny’s adoptive grandson, Kieran Romney, is ethnically African-American. When challenged over the racially-charged humor, while Harris-Perry delivered what appeared to be a sincere and heartfelt apology, all Obeidallah could muster up was a self-defensive non-apology, in which he managed to portray himself as the victim of false outrage by conservative “wing-nuts” who, in not having the super-secret decoder ring issued to all progressives, failed to realize that humor stemming from an observation that Kieran was essentially and forever different from the rest of his adoptive family due to his race was in fact a wry political statement as to the “lack of racial diversity we see at the Republican National Convention.” Which is why, of course, he referred the child as a “prop” in a mock apology to Kieran for comments made during the broadcast.
As I mentioned earlier, Dean Obeidallah is an insufferable prick.
In further evidence of his martyrdom at the feet of humorless conservative scolds, in his 2013 article for the Daily Beast, Obeidallah wrote:
Here’s the thing: As a comedian, I always try to be funny. It doesn’t always work and I have told jokes that offended people. And I can assure you that in the future I will offend even more people even though that was not my intention. Not only is comedy subjective, but so are sensibilities about when a comedian has “crossed the line.”
In fact, being attacked by right-wing publications for my jokes is nothing new to me. I even wrote an article about that just a few months ago for The Daily Beast titled “The Tea Party’s War on Comedy” about right-wing media outlets lashing out a joke I tweeted. But here’s the reality: We can expect to see even more of this outrage by both the left and the right going forward. Our collective self-righteous anger keeps escalating. Perhaps it’s because of the hyper-partisan times we live in. Or maybe it’s due to social media or the media’s desperate need for content. Perhaps it’s just payback by each side for the last time one of their own was attacked. Regardless of the reason, in time, it will only get worse.
Despite Obeidallah’s 2013 attempt at ‘a pox on both your houses’ appeal to ethos, in 2017, we see no such attempt at nuance, no such reminders of the inherent subjectivity of comedy when Yiannopolous appeared, along with another comedian (Larry Wilmore), on an intentionally comedic political talk-show hosted by a comedian (Maher). Instead, Obeidallah waxed stentorian when he proclaimed:
[S]tunningly, at the end of the interview, Maher seemed to be doing his best to make Yiannopoulos’ hateful views more acceptable. Maher concluded the interview by reading “provocative” jokes the late comedian Joan Rivers had made and saying she was still considered a “national treasure.”
His point appeared to be that if some people gave another comedian a pass, then why shouldn’t we do the same with Yiannopoulos? Well, the reasons are obvious: Rivers was actually a comedian, while Yiannopoulos is a political pundit who writes for Bretitbart.com
Did you get that? Obeidallah and Rivers have permission to be provocative, as they are card-carrying comedians, but humorist and raconteur Yiannopoulos doesn’t as he is a mere “political pundit” for Badthink.com.
Are you fucking kidding me, you insufferable prick?
The amount of cognitive dissonance possessed by Obeidallah to claim that only comedians who meet certain unnamed criteria can make jokes about sensitive topics but Yiannopoulus cannot as he writes op-eds for Brietbart surpasses Graham’s Number in magnitude. One has to marvel that the fact that Obeidallah’s sneer as he wrote the term “political pundit” is so evident that, like the the Greenhouses of Almería, it can be seen from space. When typing out those sentences, did Obeidallah forget that his day job is working the cable TV news circuit as a token progressive Muslim talking-head? Did Obeidallah forget that he was writing an op-ed for CNN? Did Obeidallah forget that he has his own political talk radio show on SiriusXM? The hypocrisy astounds. Yet, there is a simple explanation for it. It is the same reason that Yiannopoulus is currently being castigated for saying the same things that Allen Ginsberg said decades ago:
GINSBERG: Well, then you must excuse me if I don’t adopt the submissive attitude you wish. I got on the air and said that when I was young I was approached by an older man and I don’t think it did me any harm. And that I like younger boys and I think that probably almost everybody has an inclination that is erotic toward younger people, including younger boys.
LOFTON: How young were the boys?
GINSBERG: In my case, I’d say fourteen, fifteen, sixteen, seventeen, eighteen.
LOFTON: That you had sex with?
GINSBERG: No, unfortunately I haven’t had the chance. [laughs] No, I’m talking about my desires. I’m being frank and candid. And I’m also saying that if anyone was frank and candid, you’d probably find that in anybody’s breast. (Harpers, “When Worlds Collide” Jan, 1990)
Four years after this interview, Ginsberg wrote an essay explaining that he became a card-carrying member of the pedophile advocacy group NAMBLA, “in defense of free speech.” An agitator acting and speaking outrageously “in defense of free speech” sounds familiar, doesn’t it? But the simple fact remains that Yiannopoulus was recently forced to fall upon his own sword whereas Ginsberg remains in the American imagination as a Puckish merry trickster whose poems (“I saw the best minds of my generation … who bit detectives in the neck and shrieked with delight in policecars for committing no crime but their own wild cooking pederasty and intoxication”) are treated with reverence by the academy is because Ginsberg was a communist sympathizer cum progressive leftist and Yiannopoulus isn’t. In the minds of individuals like Obeidallah, it’s a very simple calculus: his progressive compatriots are to be forgiven all failings as their intentions are righteous and pure, whereas, conservatives, libertarians, etc. are always assumed to be acting and speaking in bad faith as their intentions are evil and corrupt. One wonders how Obeidallah rationalizes Joan Rivers’ interview of Reza Farahan, full of frank humor about race, religion, and homosexuality, where Melissa Rivers described her mother as a “fiscally conservative, socially liberal Republican.” In what way does Rivers’ status as a comedian allow Obeidallah to forgive her jokes like “[I’m a Republican] because I work very hard for my money and I don’t care if you’ve got 19 children – use condoms! I’ll pay for your first four children, that’s it!”? In Obeidallah’s Manichean worldview, didn’t Rivers play for the same “team” that Yiannopoulus represents? At the end of his 2013 article, despite spilling some token digital ink bemoaning the negative effect these “hyper-partisan times we live in” have upon humor, Obeidallah ended with this utterly obnoxious cri de coeur:
And let me also be clear to the self-appointed right-wing pundits: I will never stop calling out the wrongs and hypocrisy of the right. Be it citing Jesus’ name to justify slashing programs that help the less fortunate, demonizing Muslims or gays for political gain, or trying to disenfranchise minority voters with voter ID laws. And for those jokes and comments, I can assure you, I will never apologize.
Remember, this came only 2 paragraphs after he wrote “We can expect to see even more of this outrage by both the left and the right going forward. Our collective self-righteous anger keeps escalating. Perhaps it’s because of the hyper-partisan times we live in.” How dull one must be to not grasp the conflict between these two sentiments! Indeed, taking into account all of Obeidallah’s self-contradictory statements, one is forced to conclude that either he suffers from early dementia or that he is utterly without any sort of intellectual honesty or moral scruples.
So we are left with the spectacle of Yiannopoulus being pilloried for the same sins of both Ginsburg and Obeidallah. It’s not even the blatant double-standard of how Yiannopoulus has been treated so poorly due to his perceived political views that rankles so much; it’s the complete and all-consuming self-righteousness of progressives like Obeidallah and his ilk as they bemoan their treatment at the hands of “humorless” conservatives, yet still deign to deliver angry philipics when someone who is not a progressive leftist attempts to do as they did. You see, in Obeidallah’s worldview, only people with the proper views can be certified comedians, and thus, given license to poke at sacred cows. Thus, Yiannopoulus is a filthy pedophile, whereas, George Takei merely has wickedly mischevious sense of humor. In Obediallah’s worldview, Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg is a vicious anti-Semite, but Trevor Noah merely makes wry observations on “Zionism.” In Obediallah’s worldview, taking style tips from an anti-Semitic mass murderer and pedophile is merely fashion, but wearing a surfer’s necklace is irrefutable evidence that Yiannopoulus hold allegiance to an ideology that would see him placed in a death camp with both a pink and yellow triangle sewn to his blue and white striped prisoner’s pyjamas.
Dean, if you do perchance come across this article, I recommend that after reading it you enter your bathroom. I would ask that you take the time to look at yourself in the mirror. Really look at yourself. After marveling over your close resemblance to Casey Kasem, I want you to look yourself in the eyes and come to the acceptance that you are the reason Donald J. Trump is President of the United States. I want you to know, deep down in your bones, that it is an incontrovertible truth that it was the sublime hypocrisy displayed by you and your fellow progressive hatchet-men in the media that drove this nation to elect an amoral demagogue. I want you to see your face as the realization creeps across it that the current political situation is a result of the utter contempt that you have expressed towards those whom you’ve deemed as evil merely because they do not subscribe to your economic and societal views. I want you to see your eyes mist and your brow furrow in anguish as it dawns upon you that the zealous self-righteousness of you and your fellow progressives, in which you believe it acceptable to slander a perceived ideological enemy through hyperbolic sound-bites disseminated through a compliant, yet mercurial, media, has produced an equal and opposite reaction to which you now find your most beloved shibboleths tossed on the trash-heap. And, finally, when you accept that the state of affairs is over in which one could be excused of even the most vile behavior if they were your ideological kinsmen, while even the most milquetoast of peccadilloes of others were excoriated with a fury that rivaled anything found in Johnathan Edward’s Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God, if you have even a modicum of self-dignity, you will reach for your medicine cabinet, take your DOVO, pause for a moment as the cold steel is pressed against the flesh of your neck, and slide the blade from left to right.
And you’ll have no one to blame but yourself, you insufferable prick.