The Wake County School Board has accomplished what many thought was impossible.
What? Did it finally succeed in subjugating its members' egos, allowing them to at last put children's needs ahead of their own puerile political posturing?
Lord, no. The board succeeded in making Stephen Colbert funnier.
On "The Colbert Report" television show this week, Colbert focused on the contretemps between those members of the school board who want to resume its discarded policy of busing students to achieve economic integration - and those who want to turn the clock back to 1953. That's one year, incidentally, before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that separate-but-equal schools were unconstitutional and that they should be desegregated "with all deliberate speed."
Of course, for many states, "all deliberate speed" turned out to mean "deliberate as long as you want - years, even."
The important thing to remember about the show - and the thing many people, judging by their overheated and rabid responses have ignored - is that it airs on a network called Comedy Central. That means Colbert's comments were meant to elicit laughs. Literalists whose minds are not equipped to handle nuance and irony seem unmindful of that and thus accuse Colbert of fostering a left-leaning political agenda.
Bull. The dude's only agenda is to make people laugh, and he revels in making people of all political and ideological stripes look stupid.
More accurately, people make themselves look stupid. Colbert merely provides them a platform and the humor-hungry audience. Rarely has he succeeded as well as he did this week.
Consider school board member John Tedesco. Can you blame Colbert for highlighting Tedesco's seeming defense of poor schools: "If we had a school that was like, 80 percent high poverty, the public would see the challenges, the need to make it successful. ... Right now, we have diluted the problem, so we can ignore it."
In other words, the best way to help poor kids is to herd them all into the same schools and then well-meaning people will see the need to address the issue. As Colbert noted, haven't we already tried that?
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