Tomi Lahren and Trevor Noah Circled the Civil Discourse Drain


In what will hopefully be the first of many right-wing vs. left-wing debates, The Daily Show host Trevor Noah brought on republican wunderkind Tomi Lahren for an interesting chat.

Internet journalism is leaking into real life again. Right-wing commentator Tomi Lahren appeared on Wednesday night’s broadcast of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, or as Lahren called it, “the lion’s den.” She wasn’t too far off calling it that, since Twitter was absolutely delighted to see her “get roasted” or “dragged” while in the hot seat. There were choruses of “dumb b*tch,” or “stupid b*tch” thrown around online. Someone also wanted to throw her into a tire fire, but that’s not hateful or anything. Either way, whether Twitter liked it or not, the conversation was stirring.

Courtesy Comedy Central

So here’s where I have to point out that I’m not a fan of Tomi Lahren nor am I a fan of Trevor Noah. I have nothing against either one of them, I just choose not to pay close attention to their mediums. Going forward I’ll be speaking mostly about their 26-minute extended interview and what cursory knowledge I have about them. And because I believe everyone who hasn’t personally hurt me should be given a chance to ‘pitch’ themselves, I sat down and watched the interview in its entirety.

From what I do know about Tomi Lahren, the one thing I’ll say is that she speaks too fast. Her delivery on her show just makes it very clear that she is reading off a teleprompter. Whoever is operating it should perhaps slow it down a little bit. Trying to cram a whole lot of words into speech just makes it difficult to follow. Now as for her incendiary language, I will defend the practice of provocateurs in order to get people talking, as long as it’s not through hate speech or violence. The issue is, sometimes that inflamed rhetoric turns people off, even if someone is offering a poignant viewpoint underneath all the ‘hate’ and anger.

Watching this 26-minute exchange from the beginning, it was clear the audience, and Trevor Noah, were not on Tomi’s side the entire time. And I didn’t expect them to be, but I could physically hear the tension. I’m not going to get into too many specifics of their exchange, you can find plenty of articles about how “destroyed” Lahren was, but I did want to point a few things out.

Some of the points Lahren brought up (women with a voice, her sense of patriotism) were glossed over. Noah’s responses to them were “Yeah, but what about THIS” comments that are important conversations to have, but weren’t on the topics being brought up. I found this frustrating, because people were caught up on Lahren “not answering questions.” If we have to call people out, then we have to call everyone out. I thought it was incredibly insulting for Noah to say things like, “I would love to know what you think your purpose is, what you’re trying to do.” It came off condescending, and even when she explained herself, that wasn’t satisfactory enough for him. Lahren has a massive online presence, I think it’s safe to say she’s doing whatever she’s set out to accomplish.

Courtesy Comedy Central

I can see why it’s hard for people to listen to Tomi Lahren. She adds her own divisive language into the mix, with phrases like “Black Lives Matter is the new KKK” or calling attention to ‘the liberals’ many times during the exchange. But even with these two opposing viewpoints sitting at the desk, the pair actually found a little common ground discussing Obamacare. I haven’t seen that fact being brought up elsewhere, but maybe I’m not looking hard enough.

“I’m a millennial, I don’t like labels,” was a ‘gaffe’ of sorts from Lahren, but it’s not something I’m going to hold against anyone. Just like how I can gloss over Noah seemingly excusing the Dallas cop shooter as someone with a “mental illness” and being “in a tough place.” I just thought it was an odd statement, but that’s a whole different conversation.

In regards to Black Lives Matter, Noah asked “How are you labeling out the actions of a few and labeling an entire group?” Isn’t that what Twitter does on a regular basis too? Aren’t all Trump supporters part of the ‘alt-right’ (aka literal nazis)? By the way people speak about Lahren, you’d think she keeps a conical hat with eye holes tucked under her desk. I have to ask, is it not also hateful to accuse someone of that level of hatred with no proof? We just seem to be far too focused on the most red flag-raising words people use, and refuse to let anyone explain what their opinion is as a result. Friends of mine on Facebook even said “I’m a feminist, but Tomi is a c*nt.” That’s not a very nice thing to say about someone, even if it was just a joke, or the target is someone like Tomi.

Noah was also visibly frustrated that Lahren “didn’t answer his question about how a black man should protest in this country.” Here’s (another) Devil’s Advocate question. If she had answered that fully, would her ‘white privilege’ be on display? How can a white woman speak for a black man? She can’t. She can speculate, as can we all, but it seemed a little unfair to expect such a weighty answer to a question that’s as diverse as this nation. It was odd to hear an entire audience audibly gasp when Lahren said “I don’t see color,” but laugh and clap when Noah said the exact same thing in arguably the same manner. He said “It’s okay to see color, but it’s about how you treat color.” Lahren answered with, “You’re right,” yet another thread of commonality no one cares about.

Courtesy Comedy Central

I’m seeing a growing trend between the mainstream and the internet. There’s a sort of cross-pollination going on where more independent voices are being heard on different platforms. Noah called out Lahren for this, and he made a good point about the internet becoming the ‘new’ mainstream. Seeing someone with millions of Facebook followers go on a nationally-televised show should be an exciting event for all of us. We can give each other a chance to talk and maybe one day learn from one another.

I don’t think we’re there yet, though. We’re too interested in snarking at one another, and waiting for the next “sick drag” via Twitter. That gets boring after a while. This interview between Lahren and Noah was a fantastic start and I’d like to see more of these kinds of conversations. However, I think we first need to stop speaking for entire movements and just exchange personal ideas. One of Noah’s final thoughts to Lahren was “Your side has won.” But that’s not considered divisive, is it?

Maybe it’s time for a little less dragging and a little more listening. Letting people explain themselves versus talking for them is the only way to understand one another. We get too frustrated when our thoughts aren’t understood by our fellow human, which causes us to lash out. I agree with Tomi when she said “sometimes you have to call people out on their bullsh*t,” which I think both guest and host did. But if we pay too close attention to the bullsh*t of the past solely, it’s only going to make us more pissed at one another. We’ll be much better off if we remember that “conservative” doesn’t always mean “white supremacist nazi” and “liberal” doesn’t always mean “socialist SJW special snowflake.”

We’re almost on the same page. We’re circling the discourse rabbit hole as we head into 2017, and I think the only way we can get there is to just listen to people. That includes people you think can be a total “dumb b*tch” sometimes. But if you don’t want to listen to someone, that’s fine. No one is forcing you to. But getting mad because people do listen is only going to cause more chaos.

Related Story: Democrat Trevor Noah vs. Republican Tomi Lahren

The first question Trevor Noah asked Tomi Lahren was “why are you so angry?” It slightly bummed me out that she didn’t answer back with, “Aren’t we all?”

Now it’s my chance to be a little divisive. Remember the ‘interrupter counter’ during the presidential debates? I did one for this exchange. 

Tomi Lahren – 7. Trever Noah – 12. Pretty even, no?