Interviewees understood the subtext (Palestinians) and reacted accordingly.
This clip shows how American officials understand an entire group of people (Palestinians) as so implicitly threatening — that violence is immediately & uncritically accepted, even to arming literal infants.
The Israel-terrorism paradigm justifies all.
Cohen’s character recounts a non sequitur about a Muslim gardener he shot, prompting this response: “heheh, should’ve prayed in private.”
It’s not just lethality that disturbs here - it’s the casualness.
When an Israeli representative introduces the idea with one word “terrorism,” however, US officials are able to swallow it.
What insidious background assumptions does that raise?
Flip the script. Imagine a Palestinian Muslim asking an American official the same.
Still think they’d agree to arm infants?
#WhoIsAmerica features old, out of touch white men reading off a TelePrompter about the impeccable “science” of Cardi B, Wiz Khalifa, and more.
The same “hip hop” influences this demographic likes to scapegoat for violence.
Never thought I’d say this about Cohen, but his scripting here has a subtlety that reveals a broader spectrum of the racial/religious/ethnic tensions in American debates about gun violence.
He assumes it will be cut. Why?
We can assume this happens often.
“You expect me to say this, on television, without giving me further information?”
Cohen includes this interview, instead of cutting it and leaving it on the editing room floor. So — why?
It’s not moral anxiety. It’s not desire for rational critique, or reasoned analysis.
#WhoIsAmerica? It’s optics.
Cohen shows here how readily American politicians subordinate life-and-death issues to an absurd degree, assuming the usual, implicit villains.
But that’s far from the only guilty party.
These American officials are media trained — that they fucked up and fell for Cohen’s bait doesn’t tell you they’re stupid.
It tells you something much worse.
Cohen didn’t “trick” anyone.
Politicians say precisely what they know their base wants to hear.
It’s those who perpetuate this cynical, insane system: viewers who think Cohen’s joke is on politicians—and not us.