The podcaster Joe Rogan did not join a mob that forced lawmakers to flee for their lives. He never carried a Confederate flag inside the US Capitol rotunda. No one died trying to stop him from using the n-word.
Joe Rogan’s use of the n-word is another January 6 moment
But what Rogan and those that defend him have done since video clips of him using the n-word surfaced on social media is arguably just as dangerous as what a mob did when they stormed the US Capitol on January 6 last year.
Rogan breached a civic norm that has held America together since World War II. It’s an unspoken agreement that we would never return to the kind of country we used to be.That agreement revolved around this simple rule:
A White person would never be able to publicly use the n-word again and not pay a price. Rogan has so far paid no steep professional price for using a racial slur that’s been called the “nuclear bomb of racial epithets.” It may even boost his career. That’s what some say happened to another White entertainer who was recently caught using the word.
It is a sign of how desensitized we have become to the rising levels of violence — rhetorical and physical — in our country that Rogan’s slurs were largely treated as the latest racial outrage of the week.
But once we allow a White public figure to repeatedly use the foulest racial epithet in the English language without experiencing any form of punishment, we become a different country. We accept the mainstreaming of a form of political violence that’s as dangerous as the January 6 attack.
Why Rogan’s use of the n-word may not hurt his career. Some might say that comparing a podcaster’s moronic musings about race to January 6 is hyperbole. They will invoke “cancel culture” and political correctness. The man apologized, they will say. And he did.
He called his comments “the most regretful and shameful thing,” adding “I know that to most people, there’s no context where a White person is ever allowed to say that word, never mind publicly on a podcast, and I agree with that,” Rogan said after a video showed him using the n-word more than 20 times in different podcast episodes.