Do you know how hard it is, in a week of Kanye and Candace and Ben and Bill, to still win the Most Embarrassing Negro of the Week Award? That takes a special kind of dedication. A commitment to such a grotesque caricature of blackness that even Michael Rapaport would let time expire before picking you in the racial draft. Yet here we are: Donald Trump-supporting social media stars Diamond and Silk have jumped through hoops to snatch the trophy, and they even did it in front of Congress.
Lynnette Hardaway, aka Diamond, and Rochelle Richardson, aka Silk, were called to testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday about whether or not Facebook was targeting conservative social media personalities for “shadow bans” and censorship. It was a ridiculous farce of a hearing, featuring three empty chairs for executives of Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to attend (which is about as realistic as leaving spare seats for Barack and Michelle Obama in the front pew for your local Black History Month pageant), and members of Congress decried the entire affair.
However, we all know that this was just a show for Republicans to grandstand about social media, create clips for commercials, and give Diamond and Silk a chance to look presentable out in public. This also might have been a cautionary tale about what happens when dim-witted social media stars get confronted by people smarter than they are: They end up saying idiot things (note Trump’s interview on Fox & Friends yesterday). Diamond and Silk broke so many laws of common sense, legality and decency yesterday that I’m surprised they weren’t collecting lawyers’ résumés by the end of the hearing. Below is a list of three laws they broke.
1. The Laws of Grammar
I am no language snob. I have taught students with the flat affect of Midwesterners; taught many a successful future lawyer who regularly code-switches between “axe” and “ask”; and know which of my Morgan State University students are from around the way by how they pronounce Baltimore (real locals say “Bal-more”).
Listening to Diamond and Silk butcher the laws of logic and grammar for three hours should be punishable by law. If not law, then definitely Twitter jail. You needed a Rosetta stone and closed captioning to make sense of the word salad and painfully poor pronunciation from those two. I don’t know what an “ago-rhythm” is (I suspect it’s related to Facebook algorithms, but maybe that’s fake news), but they kept complaining about it and Jeff Zuckerberg, and seemed to believe that Facebook, a nominally free platform, owed them some type of income. These two need grammar school and some rudimentary social media training.
2. The Law of Nature
One of the basic laws of nature is survival. You fight to survive no matter what, even in the face of death. As American hero and spirit animal to every black man entering Waffle House in 2018 James Shaw Jr. said, “You gonna have to earn this kill.”
So in nature, normal animals don’t team up with predators for survival. Yes, they may hide from them, even create a symbiotic relationship with them, but antelopes don’t build bungalows with cheetahs (too expensive, anyway), and mice don’t cozy up to cats. So when it was discovered after the Diamond and Silk congressional carnival that the two had taken money from white nationalist Paul Nehlen, various laws of nature, common decency and civility were broken. In fact, news of Nehlen’s payment is what put them over the line for Most Embarrassing Negro of the Week, since it was just a little worse than Kanye’s unseasoned-house photos.
Nehlen, the white nationalist running to replace Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in Wisconsin, is such an awful neo-Nazi that even other neo-Nazis don’t like him. But that wasn’t enough to stop Diamond and Silk from lining up for those butter biscuits. (As a sidenote, an additional law broken: Nowhere in nature is there any animal whose teeth match the color of their hair and their shirt, but Silk seems to complete the trifecta in this video.)
3. The Laws of the United States of America
Here’s where it gets very interesting. Diamond and Silk perjured themselves in front of Congress. In fact, it was almost unfair: They were playing three-on-two against Congressional Black Caucus members Hank Johnson (D-Ga.), Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), who slowly and surely teed them up during various points of testimony. Johnson asked if they had been able to monetize their high-profile posts on Facebook; Jackson Lee asked if they had ever been paid by the Trump campaign; and Jeffries specifically said that lying during congressional testimony is perjury.
Then what did Diamond and Silk do? They lied under oath, of course. According to FCC records, Diamond and Silk were paid $1,274.94 for “field consulting” by the Trump campaign for flying to a Women for Trump event in Ohio during the election. Diamond insisted five times that she had never been paid by the Trump campaign, and when pressed by Jeffries, the pair claimed that they had simply been reimbursed for plane tickets, not paid.
Which is a difference without a distinction. The question isn’t whether you made a profit—the question is whether Trump ever paid you, and the truth is yes, and they said no.
In a just world, Cubic Zirconium and Polyester would go to jail for at least one of these crimes (the orange on orange on orange has to be illegal somewhere), but alas, in Trump’s America, violating the laws of common sense, decency, democracy and good taste has no consequences. Eventually, though, their patron saint of corruption, Donald Trump, will get his comeuppance, and they’ll fall by the wayside or attach themselves like leeches to the next crazy person running for office. Maybe Paul Nehlen needs two staff secretaries who aren’t that good at grammar but can keep the racist base entertained.