(image use flickr-Gage Skidmore)
Depending on who you are, Tomi Lahren is either the Hobbit that saves Middle Earth or one of Sauron’s orcs. A 24-year old conservative media figure on The Blaze, Lahren’s rants on Colin Kaepernick’s un-Americanism, the babyish nature of Trump protestors, and how Black Lives Matter is similar to the KKK consistently gain more Facebook views than even Donald Trump’s patented ramblings. Lahren herself has stated that “I poke the bear” and “I’m challenging the way people look at their world”, and if election 2016 has taught us anything, it’s that the latter sentiment may be more important than ever, especially when it comes to cross-ideological dialogue.
Tomi Lahren coming on as a guest on The Daily Show may appear akin to a fish deciding to sleep over at a Grizzly Bear’s cave. Yet the conversation that followed between her and Trevor Noah was focused entirely on the issues, be it race, political protest, or patriotism, something that the mainstream media was historically abysmal at doing this year. Lahren and Noah’s discussion was almost entirely devoid of ad-hominem judgements on character, with the goals being not to obsess over how “right” one side is, but rather understand why one side of the political spectrum believes the way it does.
For example, Noah confronted Lahren about her anger towards Kaepernick taking a knee during the national anthem, with Noah stating “I truly do not understand” as to why Lahren felt that way. Lahren goes on to state “for me, I know what that flag means for those that are fighting for our country right now. Our national anthem has gotten a lot of people through very hard times.” Later in the interview, Noah asks Lahren what is the “right” way for a black person in America to protest because “If I march in the streets people say I’m a thug. If I go down on one knee, it’s wrong.” Lahren responds with “if I am a woman and I am marginalized in some way, I don’t protest my country.”
There is much to dissect in the exchange in terms of how Noah and Lahren filter these sociological factors. Yet the fact that the two could have issue-focused discussions in a culture where there is a tendency to call the other political side “monster” or “idiot” ought to serve as obvious precedent for how future discourse should be handled in the media. I would even argue that the Noah/Lahren interview best embodies what I believe feminism is; i.e the understanding of perspectives and the expansion of opportunities, in this case the opportunity for conservatives and liberals to work towards mutual social betterment.
Cross-ideological discourse has become a lost art in the internet age where something is either wonderful or horrible with little to no middle ground, and the Lahren-Noah interview was successful in creating the momentum to smash that corrosive narrative. While we may not agree entirely with what Lahren or Noah stand for, their interview sowed the seeds for future inter-ideological media exchange and is thus much needed cultural progression.
(featured image flickr-Elvert Barnes)