CNN says Joe Rogan using the N-word is 'another January 6 moment'

"If Rogan goes on with business as usual, all of us - not just Black people - will pay a price. Our country won't be the same," the CNN writer said. "This is another January 6 moment."

Hannah Nightingale Washington DC

On Sunday, CNN published an analysis piece from senior writer John Blake blasting podcasting icon Joe Rogan's usage of the N-word, which he has since apologized for, equating the word's usage to "another January 6 moment."

Blake posted the article to Twitter early Sunday morning under its original title, which said: "Joe Rogan's use of the n-word is another January 6 moment."

The CNN article's title has since been changed to "Why shrugging off Joe Rogan's use of the n-word is so dangerous," but the first two paragraphs of Blake's writing still encapsulate the idea behind the original headline given to the piece.

"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," wrote Blake.

"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," he continued.

Blake said that Rogan has "breached a civic norm that has held America together since World War II," an "unspoken agreement" that a white person "would never be able to publicly use the n-word again and not pay a price."

Spotify had removed over 100 podcast episodes of Rogan's and vowed to add content advisories to uploads that discuss COVID-19 to "combat misinformation.

The hashtag #IStandWithJoeRogan trended on Twitter after the cancel culture mob targeted Rogan amid the Spotify and N-word controversies.

With Rogan not facing a vast de-platforming or cancellation after a compilation video showed his usage of the N-word, Blake wrote "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."

Blake went on to equate how Rogan's usage of the word would not negatively affect his career to the case of country singer Morgan Wallen.

Wallen was deemed ineligible for the Academy of Country Music Awards in 2021 after he was caught on video using the word in a conversation with a friend. He was subsequently dropped from radio stations and streaming services.

"A year later, 'Wallen's career has not only rebounded but exploded,' according to Billboard magazine. His songs are back on the radio and he had the most popular album of 2021 in the US, according to Billboard. Wallen is embarking on a nationwide tour, with many dates already sold out, and is slated to headline music festivals this summer," Blake wrote.

Citing a Rolling Stone article published earlier this month, the CNN piece said that Wallen's popularity has surged following those past events, because the backlash "made him a martyr... to people that hold what I would say are prejudices."

Blake went on to talk about how "for decades, life would never go on as normal for a White person caught using the n-word," citing the career-ending usage of the word for actress Roseanne Barr, chef Paula Deen, and Seinfeld's comedian Michael Richards.

"The price that White people paid for crossing this line wasn't legal. No one called for them to be jailed or fined. But many were shamed and exiled from their professional communities," wrote Blake.

Blake said the shift to demonizing the word in the public space wasn't about "political correctness," but rather about "our survival as a multiracial democracy and our standing in the world," describing the history of the word's shift towards being a societal no-no from World War II through the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

Blake went on to say that America has become "desensitized to hate speech."

Answering the question, "why now," Blake said that "the theories vary. Some cite the rise of social media, the growth of White supremacist groups and a right-wing media ecosystem that has mainstreamed racist rhetoric," noting that former President Donald Trump played a large part as well, riding "a trail of racist, sexist, and antisemitic statements all the way to the White House."

Blake, citing scholar Steven Levitsky, said that these factors converge into a chain effect called "defining deviance down," which is reportedly what happens when a country starts accepting offensive language it rejected before, equating the events to that of the Rwandan Genocide in 1994.

"What triggered the violence in part were the messages that came from people in positions of power in Rwanda. Many, like Rogan, had a public megaphone and an audience," wrote Blake.

"Genocide is a worst-case scenario. But we don't have to look as far as Rwanda to see how quickly civic norms can change when people in power start lowering standards. Earlier this month the Republican National Committee drafted a resolution calling the deadly January 6 insurrection 'legitimate political discourse,'" he added.

According to Blake, CNN's Stephen Collinson responded in a column, "The Republican Party is ever closer to the destination to which it has long been headed under former President Donald Trump -- the legitimization of violence as a form of political expression."

"The January 6 insurrection was so dangerous because it violated a political norm. The citizens in a healthy democracy are supposed to accept the peaceful transfer of power, not to use violence as a tool of political protest," Blake added in a following paragraph.

Meanwhile, despite the above comment condemning violence portrayed on Jan. 6, far-left groups partook in what was considered "peaceful" protests in the summer of 2020, which saw millions of dollars of destruction done across the country in the wake of George Floyd’s death.

Blake continued on to say that Rogan's usage of the N-word "may also be drawing us closer to something else: destroying any plausible shot at building a genuine multiracial democracy." He said that the "universal condemnation" that white people would receive for using the word was "part of a civic norm that made a multiracial democracy possible."

"It was considered un-American."

Blake continued on to question "what are we" as a society, pointing to Rogan’s offer from Rumble to bring his podcast there, and Spotify's "clear lines around content and take action when they are crossed" with Blake adding that the line does not include the use of the word.

He said that Rogan is a "blinking red light, warning that the civic and political rules that once held the nation together no longer apply."

"Don't let the Rogan n-word controversy devolve into another tired discussion about cancel culture. This moment is bigger. If Rogan goes on with business as usual, all of us -- not just Black people -- will pay a price. Our country won't be the same," Blake said, concluding by saying, "This is another January 6 moment."


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