We Just Don’t Get It: The elusive humor of treason
By: Daniel Clark
John Kerry tried to explain away his remarks to the students of Pasadena City College by saying that they were really a “botched” joke. An incredulous Sean Hannity responded by challenging callers to his radio show to explain what the joke was. Naturally, he has not gotten a satisfactory answer.
Any comedian will tell you never to explain your jokes, and for good reason. Humor isn’t something you can easily quantify, as if the square root of x = funny. If someone doesn’t see humor in certain things, no amount of elaboration will help. For example, you can’t explain to most women why it’s funny when Moe shoves Larry’s head into a belt sander. It just is.
Kerry told the students that “if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework, and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don’t, you get stuck in Iraq.” Clearly, what he meant was that our soldiers in Iraq are lacking in intelligence and initiative. What Hannity doesn’t recognize is that this is the joke. The disconnect is in that the joke isn’t funny if you don’t think our soldiers are fair game for ridicule.
What if Kerry had said that if you don’t study hard, you’ll wind up in Greenpeace? That wouldn’t exactly be a side-splitter, but at least it’s something that a Republican would recognize as a joke. That’s because, from a Republican perspective, overzealous student activists are suitable objects of derision. Liberal institutions naturally tend to be fodder for conservative humor, and vice versa. Whereas the butts of conservative jokes are often lawyers, bureaucrats and professors, liberals are just as likely to poke fun at clergymen, policemen and soldiers.
This is usually easy to recognize. For example, conservatives know that liberals tend to be hostile toward religion, so when they make jokes that insult priests or ministers, we get them. A lot of us don’t get it when they insult the military, however, because too many of us allow liberal Democrats to get away with saying that they “support the troops,” no matter how much their words and actions contradict that claim.
This misperception is the reason for Hannity’s failure to get Kerry’s joke. As many times as he’s recounted the senator’s treasonous history on his show, he still insists, “I’m not questioning your patriotism. I’m questioning your judgment.” Since Kerry’s lack of patriotism is the basis for his joke, it logically follows that Hannity doesn’t get it, since he does not recognize its premise.
In the past, Sen. Kerry has likened our soldiers to terrorists, and accused them of almost unspeakable atrocities. His Democrat colleagues in the Senate have called our prison guards Nazis, and compared the American invasion of Iraq to Pearl Harbor. His party even gave Michael Moore a seat of honor at its national convention. To people who hold their point of view, calling American soldiers stupid is funny in the same way that Hogan’s Heroes is funny to the rest of us.
It should come as no surprise that liberals consider the American military to be the enemy, and that they derive humor from that. After all, they were the ones who got such a kick out of those Vietnam-era Pogo comics whose signature punchline was, “We have seen the enemy and it is us.” Well, they think the enemy in the War on Terror is us, too, as they tell us in their bumper sticker slogan, “At least the war on the middle-class is going well.”
It’s impossible to recognize that as a joke, as long as we refuse to question anyone’s patriotism. That’s because no patriot who believed we were losing the war would consider it a laughing matter. We can only get the joke once we’ve acknowledged that its author is rooting for defeat. If the enemy is us, then our losing the war would be funny, just like it’s funny to watch the Allies put one over on Col. Klink.
By refusing to recognize the anti-American Left for what it is, conservatives unwittingly become a part of the joke, by playing the role of Sgt. Schultz. John Kerry accused American soldiers of fictitious atrocities, threw away his military ribbons, and secretly met with the Vietcong in Paris, and still we see no reason to even question his patriotism.
Liberal Democrats may joke that they have seen the enemy and it is us, but at least that means that they see an enemy. We see NUTH-thing.
Daniel Clark is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance. The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets.
Daniel Clark is a writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the author and editor of a web publication called The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press, where he also publishes a seasonal sports digest as The College Football Czar.