Look, I didn’t join in #CancelColbert. I thought the original tweet from the Colbert show was disgusting, discouraging, and disappointing, but I came to the conclusion that I didn’t believe Colbert’s show should be cancelled, so I refrained from participating in that campaign. But Suey Park and lots of other people came to their own conclusions that either the show should be cancelled, or that—even if it shouldn’t—an extreme call to action would generate more attention to a way-too-frequently overlooked issue (white liberal “wink-wink” racism). I disagreed with that, and I respect their opinions and right to do activism that way. Not “but,” “and.” There’s no contradiction inherent in respecting and disagreeing with someone.

But good grief, you wouldn’t know that from the way the internet’s blown up about it.

And this is why the conversation is so grotesquely stupid. Because the very instant the racist, sexist, hateful, violent backlash against the Asian American woman who started the hashtag began, the conversation should have stopped being about “extremists” and “hysterics” and “professional outrage” or whether there is merit and substance to attention-getting tactics. 

If you haven’t been following Suey Park, pop over to her twitter mentions and just skim for a few minutes. Look at how people—presumably Colbert fans, right? The we-can’t-be-racist-we’re-Democrats folks?—are speaking to her. Racist slurs, sexist slurs, threats… violence and anger that are absurdly disproportionate to her “crime” of challenging the practice of giving white liberals a pass on racism. And she’s the out-of-control extremist.

Oh, but that’s “just Twitter,” right? Everyone knows thar’s trolls in them hills? Well okay, if you’re one of those folks who think that communication stops being a human interaction depending on the medium then we’ve got bigger problems, but no, it’s not “just Twitter.” Watch this HuffPost Live interview and see how the white male interviewer speaks to her. [Important note to self: become as impeccably poised and professional as Suey Park.] It’s a beautiful lesson in derailment: he ignores everything she says, refuses to move the conversation forward, demands she explain things she’s already explained, pretends she doesn’t understand what a joke is… He friggin’ calls her stupid! A guest on his show! And then whines with his friend afterward about what a bully she is.

But what’s the dismissal this time, that HuffPost Live is just a web show no one watches? How about a blog news network with an estimated 15 million unique visits per month? Oh yes friends, I do mean the Gawker network. Jezebel, true to form, ran a patronizing, whitesplaining article about how women of color need to calm down, not be so angry and over the top, not take every little thing so personally—in short, another classic example of how to derail an issue of racism into an issue of white people giving advice about the Right Way to put up with racism.

But wait! There’s even more, and it’s even worse. The same day, Deadspin ran an article with the headline, “G—s Don’t Get R—s Joke.”

I know, it’s like Wheel of Fortune in here with all these missing letters, but it is my damn blog and I will not be repeating those words here. If you’d like to solve the puzzle, that’s a slur for Asian people and the slur for the people of the First Nations currently used as the Washington football team name. Printed in the headline of one of the most popular sites on the internet. Because it’s a joke.

Because it’s such a hilarious fucking joke.

Until someone you’ve made the butt of that joke calls you out on it—then the “I’m not actually racist, I’m just joking about being racist” mask falls, and the gale of latent entitlement, superiority, and dominance blows full force.

At which point, after Ms. Park has clearly demonstrated that racism against Asian Americans is alive and well, how can your problem be with her tone? Continuing to make the conversation about her and her strategy of getting the internet’s attention, after all this, serves only as rationalization for abusers.

The conversation about whether Ms. Park is “histrionic” or whether her “over-the-top demands” are “divisive” and “counter-productive” is so, so, so, so not the point. It’s not the point. If you don’t care about the racism she and the broader community have faced in the purported defense of “satire” then you, my friend, are the divisive and counter-productive one. If you can look at this issue, at how this has played out in the real world in 2014 America, and think that Suey Park is the problem, then I do not know how to find common ground with you on this topic. I think that position is abhorrent.

It’s wrong to prioritize critique of the tone and tactics of oppressed groups challenging oppression, over challenging oppression. It’s wrong to think that someone’s tone or tactics justify the actions of the real histrionic extremists here: the white supremacist infants throwing tantrums about their right to dictate what is and isn’t racist. It’s wrong that comfortably observing and pointing fingers at what women of color are doing wrong whilst calling for “reason” from a cozy white tower of privilege is what passes for the sane middle ground.

I keep hearing this “just a joke” thing, as if I don’t understand that the point of Colbert’s bit or even the Deadspin headline is to use hyperbole to make a point. I know that it’s to get a rise. But if it’s so cool and edgy and satirical to make an over-the-top exaggerated display of a point of view you don’t agree with in order to highlight absurdity, then remind me why Suey Park is getting slammed with abuse for doing… exactly that?

The entire conversation is disheartening and embarrassing, but not for the reasons y’all seem to think.