Colbert's testimony

September 24, 2010

When the United Farm Workers announced their “Take Our Jobs” campaign this summer, I put it in my “maybe blog about this” folder and never came back to it. It’s a clever idea—legal residents are invited to replace migrant farm workers in the field—but the news media didn’t write a whole lot about it then, either.

They are today. That’s because today Stephen Colbert testified—in character—before the immigration subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee. After the late-night host accepted the UFW’s invitation to spend a day as a farm worker, subcommittee chair Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) invited him to testify. While taking questions after his prepared statement, Colbert eventually got serious. (He even quoted Matthew 25, progressive Christian that he is.) But the statement itself was full of shtick—"Apparently, even the invisible hand [of the market] doesn't want to pick beans"—much of which bombed in the bizarre context of the hearing room.

Not that he minded. Colbert’s genius isn’t in finding comedy gold in outrageous places, though he’s done that. It’s in his deep awareness of how completely the distinction between news and entertainment has dissolved. Some people wring their hands over this; Colbert exploits it to bring attention to an issue he cares about. Good for him.

Here's the video:


Colbert the Catholic

It's worth nothing that Stephen Colbert is a Catholic Sunday School teacher... and when asked why he picked the issue he said that he thinks we ought to care for the least of these.

Media Misunderstands Colbert's Testimony

I was thrilled by Colbert's testimony--but some in the media fail to understand. Chuck Todd, guest host on MSNBC's Hardball, stated that Colbert's testifying in character represented a new low for Congress.

Colbert made several memorable remarks. In his testimony he made clear that he never wanted to do this work again--a perspective not appreciated by corporatists in Congress who perceive immigrant agricultural workers as objects of scorn. His reference to migrant workers being among "the least of these" was likewise a moment revealing this man's compassion.

Wake up, Chuck Todd. Your snippets of his testimony missed the point entirely. Colbert's testimony was pertinent and laudatory.

Bless you, Stephen.

Veracity of Colbert's Testimony

The format of his testimony was not the traditional mode of presentation. But if you listen to what he said, there is a clear argument and a genuine opinion on the matter. It is narrow to fail to see the respect for the subject matter evident in his testimony.