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#2 Way to Exasperate a Liberal: Tell Inaccurate and Unfunny Political Jokes

James Delingpole email-splatters his #2 Way to Drive a Liberal Crazy all over the World Wide Web today:

Ways to Drive a Liberal Crazy, #2 of 365

Tell a joke:
Q: Why was Obama so disappointed when he went to a screening of The Men Who Stare at Goats?

A: Being a Muslim, he thought there would be more romance.

Delingpole’s right this time: the “joke” really is exasperating to a liberal audience. As anybody who’s been to a comedy club knows, there are two kinds of funny. There’s funny ha-ha, and then there’s funny weird. This “joke” is funny weird, in that kind of creepy off-putting way that makes you smile thinly in a cringe, the sort of cringe that your boss elicits with the “jokes” he starts delivering at the Christmas party after the third glass of champagne. The cringe comes from “jokes” that not only aren’t really funny, but that nakedly expose just what sort of person your boss — or in this case James Delingpole — is.

The “joke” that James Delingpole wants his conservative audience to tell exposes two aspects of American conservatism’s moral weakness. The first moral weakness is a willingness to embrace obvious falsehood in order to stoke the flames of fury. Not only is there no evidence that Barack Obama is a Muslim, there’s plenty of evidence that our President is a Christian. But admitting President Obama into the circle of Christianity would force conservatives like Delingpole to admit some sort of commonality with Obama, some sort of shared humanity with him — and that truth would make it harder for them to hate him. Because Delingpole conservatives are committed first and foremost to hating Barack Obama, they are willing to seize on untruths in order to prop up that hatred.

The second moral weakness this “joke” exposes is the bothersome habit of religious bigotry. Just as they must deny Barack Obama human commonality to hate him in comfort, they must convince themselves that Muslims are bestial figures in order to declare war on them as a group with a clear conscience. It’s the reason people used to draw cartoons of Jews with the faces of rats. It’s the reason Delingpole asks conservatives to publicly insinuate that Muslims have sexual relations with farm animals.

All this prompts liberal exasperation. For a political joke to work, it has to lay bare some kind of underlying truth; the obvious falsehoods at the bottom of Delingpole’s attempt at a joke lead to a painful bellyflop in delivery. Its purpose is transparently not to hit home a zinger that makes liberals reconsider matters in a new light, but to help conservatives prop up a flagging, flaccid fury. Such manipulations are best carried on in private. We’ve been trying to put up with the Obama-is-a-Muslim and Muslims-screw-goats sort of jokes, but really, it’s been so many years now, and after the umpteenth time listening to it we can’t help asking ourselves: when are these people going to notice the stares they’re getting? When will these conspiracy theorist religious bigots stop embarrassing themselves?

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