With U.S. troops now withdrawn from Afghanistan, conservatives have found a new theater of war to obsess over.
Time to Log Off is a weekly series documenting the many ways our political figures show their whole asses online.
With the United States military withdrawn from Afghanistan, conservatives in this country are already itching to redeploy a battalion of our most effective troops to another conflict hotspot that threatens America’s fragile national security: Sesame Street.
Despite — or perhaps because of — the fact that it is populated almost entirely by stuffed felt with googly eyes, the iconic (and, I have to stress: fictional) children’s program locale is now public enemy No. 1 amongst the more vociferously stupid class of right-wing blowhards, who have spent the past week positively raging at puppets, which are not alive, in some vainglorious attempt to advance the front lines of their oh-so-precious culture war onto Jim Henson’s beloved street.
The Sesame siege is essentially a two-pronged assault, targeting the show’s decision to add an explicitly Asian muppet on one front, while simultaneously attacking the cast for advocating that viewers get the COVID vaccination — which, by the way, is a continuation of the show’s decades-long pro-vaccine work.
Here is General Donald Trump Jr., a nepotism placement in the conservative military, whining about ... well, I’m not sure exactly. Something about why it’s bad to have an Asian puppet designed to make Asian children feel more seen and included in a show about how everyone should be seen and feel included?
What point is Trump Jr. trying to make here? It’s unclear beyond a vague sense of self-righteousness over something with absolutely zero impact on his life as an unfathomably wealthy failson. Is it bad that Ji-Young is Asian? Is it bad that Ernie is orange? Why does he think these things are comparable? What is your point, my guy???
Joining forces with Donj’s kamikaze assault on these two puppets was conservative kingmaker and CPAC conference head Matt Schlapp, whose personal resemblance to Sesame Street game show host Guy Smiley should be — but unfortunately isn’t — enough to dissuade him from setting his sights on Ji-Young.
“What race is Ernie is Bert?” Hmm, truly a profound riddle from this deep thinker, who doesn’t seem to realize that Sesame Street has never been owned by PBS in its decades-long run on that channel, nor by HBO since its leap to the cable giant five years ago.
Speaking of Schlapp, ponderous sage that he is, here’s a tweet from his CPAC conference, which — as one of the premier platforms for modern American conservatism — is making absolutely clear its stance on admitting imaginary felt creations to the next installment of its annual bigotry-fest.
You hear that, imaginary characters made of fabric and foam? You’re NOT INVITED. Neener-neener-neener. Suck it, Grover.
Schlapp’s CPAC isn’t alone in gleefully knotting its own underpants over the recent push by Sesame Street to encourage COVID vaccinations. Sen. Ted Cruz apparently freed up his schedule to shout at Big Bird on Twitter all week. Fox News likewise looked at the blighted media landscape this week and decided to dedicate multiple airtime minutes to complaining about muppets, too.
The irony here is that this is nothing new for Sesame Street. Here’s Big Bird — who, I cannot emphasize this enough, is not a real person, but simply a shambling unitard buttressed with foam ribbing and feathers — getting his measles vaccine half a century ago.
Can we assume that Mr. Bird, were he alive, would also be persona non grata in conservative spaces for the past 50 years? Well, yes, we can, given the longstanding and deeply pathological hate most conservatives have for Sesame Street, regardless of what ephemeral issue of the day they filter it through. Still, when multiple adults spend days yelling at puppets online, perhaps it’s time they take a beat, think about what they’re really trying to do here, and simply log off.