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So Tomi Lahren’s meteoric rise continued as she appeared on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah and proceeded to debate about I don’t know, like if Black Lives Matter is actually KKK. Yeah, that’s the discourse in the year of our lord 2016.
Naturally Lahren got grilled, considering we’ve rarely seen her actually be interviewed, and the internet got all excited. First, Lahren’s fanbase got to see her “TOTALLY OWN A LIB” and second, well we got to see her feet actually get held to the fire about some of the shit she has said as of late.
I first discovered Tomi Lahren around this past Super Bowl when she talked about Beyonce performing Formation and how clearly Beyonce hates the troops and police. A cluster of people started sharing her videos going “THIS” and now she has steadily launched herself from the Facebook fringe to the brink of the mainstream media she openly despises. Lahren’s schtick is not to terribly different than Rush Limbaugh. She throws red meat to her audience about their worst fears and says it in a voice that’s not “politically correct” (whatever the fuck that means now).
Lahren’s videos are editorial based and on The Blaze (Glenn Beck’s channel) so its not as much fact as it is opinion. The people who love her as she “tells it like it is” but has mostly capitalized on white anger. Tomi Lahren is not famous because she’s extolling conservative viewpoints on policy, or healthcare, or even social issues such as abortion but on antagonizing Colin Kaepernick, Beyonce, Jesse Williams and Black Lives Matter. The most viewed YouTube videos of hers are in fact on those individuals.
I’m not going to call Tomi Lahren anything. I’m not going to call her stupid. Or loud. Or racist. Or homophobic. Or anything. She’s such a caricature of far-right wing media that you have to be almost certain that this is about 50% genuine feelings mixed with 50% schtick. She throws red meat on very easy topics to appeal to the right, and reaps the benefits.
While it was nice to see someone actually blast her for some of the things she has said, I will argue that she did not lose to Noah. She won.
We hate-watch her videos in the same way people ordered Floyd Mayweather or Conor McGregor fights. We want to see her lose, but we forget by legitimizing her that we are quickly making her the voice on conservatism. We are mainstreaming her views that BLM=KKK, which is one of the most tone-deaf and ignorant arguments that you can make.
However, now we give those beliefs legitimacy. Here’s how a conversation with her would likely go:
LAHREN: “Black Lives Matter are doing the same things that the KKK did”
OTHER PERSON: “Well, BLM is an organized movement that highlights institutional prejudices that goes beyond just racism. It was made in light of topics such as normalizing police brutality, private prisons, disenfranchising, Voter ID laws, etc.”
LAHREN: “Black people have killed people too”
PERSON: “That has nothing to do with BLM”
LAHREN: “They pledged allegiance to them”
A lot of people take credit that they don’t see labels or they don’t see colors, that they just see people. In some cases its well-meaning but the minute we close our eyes on who people are, the minute we mute their voices on the issues that count for them. We can’t just ignore institutional prejudices because you don’t see color or gender. We can’t just move on because you think a protest is a tantrum versus not a legitimate issue. You can’t look around and ignore the War on Drugs and how it targets minorities but be more outraged that a NFL player takes a knee for ninety seconds once a week for sixteen times.
But this is what we did. We let Tomi Lahren and Donald Trump become legitimate influences on our political and social worlds. We are willing to listen to an outraged sentence instead of an uncomfortable paragraph because its easier to be mad. I’ll even say that as a hypocrite because we should always self-reflect. I’d rather get mad at Tomi Lahren than maybe challenge my beliefs.
She didn’t lose in her debate with Trevor Noah, even if she “lost” the battle of facts. She won because now she took on the liberal media and her fans will know that. Her influence will only grow. She is not the voice of your Facebook friends who you haven’t talked to in ten years.
She’s now the voice of the opposition.