City officials from Kingman, Ariz., want you to know that the racists shown on a recent episode of Sacha Baron Cohen’s show, Who Is America, aren’t their racists. But, you know, they’re still trying to do better about the whole race thing.
As the Washington Post reports, the town of Kingman has taken issue with its portrayal after a recent episode of Cohen’s satirical program showed supposed members of the town losing their minds over a proposed “brand new, state-of-the-art” mosque.
In the episode, Cohen proudly presents a room full of white Kingmanites with a multi-million dollar construction project that would give Kingman the largest mosque outside of the Middle East.
“Just the word alone scares you,” says one man. “When I hear the word mosque, I think of terrorism.”
So you’re not a fan, is what you’re saying.
Later in the segment, a bald white man in the back of the room, responding to Cohen’s question of whether there were any Muslims in Kingman, answers “This town is lucky to have any black people in it.”
In his signature style, Cohen plays dumb to milk the moment.
“Yeah, of course, you’re lucky to have black people in it,” Cohen replies. “They add a lot to society.”
“Thank you, sir. Finally, someone who appreciates multiculturalism,” Cohen adds.
“No, you’re not hearing me out,” the bald white man responds, eager to correct Cohen. Another man (Mr. Mosque-Means-Terrorism) interjects and states the obvious.
“He’s saying that black people in Kingman, they aren’t welcome there either, but we tolerate them,” he says.
Welp. It’s certainly not a good look for the town that was previously best known for (briefly) being home to Timothy McVeigh before he blew up a federal building in Oklahoma City.
But Kingman officials are pushing back against the segment. In an interview with the Post on Wednesday, Kingman mayor Monica Gates said she “didn’t recognize a soul in that video.”
A statement posted on the town’s Facebook page about the episode echoed the mayor’s sentiment, describing the people in the segment as “purported residents,” and alleging that the episode’s “numerous ‘focus group’ participants don’t even live in Kingman.”
(The statement also couldn’t help but take a page out of Donald Trump’s playbook, calling Cohen’s show “very lowly rated.”)
From the Post:
One man in the segment said something like “Kingmaners” to describe locals. That caught Gates’s attention — citizens typically refer to themselves as “Kingmanites,” she said. Other moments, like outside shots and the building itself, were not recognizable, she said.
Shorter Kingman: “She doesn’t even go here!”
But oddly enough, Kingman’s statement, while distancing its residents from the ones shown on Who Is America, also states that “every city has resident voices that challenge respect and dignity for others,” and that Kingman is doubling down on efforts to make the town a more welcoming and inclusive place.
In fact, this year may be the first year the town celebrates National Hispanic Heritage month, thanks to a new resolution. And Kingman even has “African-Americans applying for leadership positions with the city” the statement reads. Gates confirmed to the Post that no black people or people of color actually hold any leadership positions—that line “might have been an overreach” she admitted—but hey, at least they’re applying!
Besides, the city writes, Kingman already has a mosque.
Thus far, Cohen’s new show has made quite the reputation for getting assholes to (literally) show their ass. Georgia state representative, Jason Spencer, resigned this week after a segment on Who Is America showed him shouting the N-word at the top of his lungs and exposing his bare behind for Cohen, who was impersonating an Israeli terrorism expert.