Column: Leave Ivanka Trump alone
Recently, Donald Trump has found himself at the center of another debate about political correctness. But this time, surprisingly, he is the victim, rather than the perpetrator.
Trevor Noah, Jon Stewart’s successor to the throne of "The Daily Show," has started a satirical campaign with Trump as its target — last Thursday, his show debuted the hashtag #DonaldTrumpWantsToBangHisDaughter, the follow-up to two comedy bits he did before Christmas centered around accusing Trump of, obviously, wanting to bang his daughter, Ivanka Trump. It has started some discussion about whether or not it’s appropriate for a comedian to make an accusation like that, no matter how unserious.
Now, to be fair to Noah, Trump has actually made some truly disturbing comments about Ivanka Trump, and many of them have been featured on the "Daily Show" to field the accusation. Additionally, he has a very real and very funny satirical point to make about Trump’s own propensity for making baseless, insulting claims about others and then refusing to back off of them when confronted with actual evidence.
Still, some commenters think that accusations of incest are too far to go to make such a point. And, quite frankly, I’m surprised that Trump has yet to sue Noah for the joke, given how he reacted to Bill Maher’s allegations that his father could be an orangutan.
My take is this: I do not care what is said about Trump. I cannot think of a comedic accusation heinous enough that I would feel sorry for him, given how little he appears to care about the feelings and reputations of other people when he’s making his own — presumably serious, but it’s hard to tell — public statements. There was, of course, the memorable birther debate he started during the 2008 presidential race, followed by his assertion that Megyn Kelly was on her period during the first Republican debate. And, of course, it wouldn’t do to forget the broad generalizations he’s leveled against black people and Hispanics.
So I do not think that Noah has gone too far in accusing Trump of something inflammatory, even of something as disgusting as incest. Trump has made himself a public figure, made comments that leave him open to attack and furthermore, if there’s any karmic balance to the race, has proved himself deserving of below-the-belt hits by hitting others below the belt.
However, I do think that this particular claim should have been out of bounds. Not, as I’ve said, because it’s insulting to Trump, but because it drags his daughter through the mud as well, which Noah acknowledged.
Still, admitting that it's unfair isn't enough. Ivanka Trump can’t be blamed for her father’s unsettling comments or mean streak. Therefore, it’s entirely inappropriate to make her collateral damage when firing at "the Donald." Even if she hasn’t been accused of anything, she is reinvolved in the fight every time Noah says “Don’t forget: Donald Trump wants to bang his daughter” simply due to the nature of the comment. I can only imagine it’s mortifying for her, at best.
Even when taking aim at someone like Trump, comedians should take some care as to who is caught in the crossfire.