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SNL Under Fire From Activists, Comedians, Artists, And Leaders

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More than Half a Million Petition Signers and John Leguizamo Agree that Racism Just Isn’t Funny

Last night, leaders from a host of Latino and immigrant rights groups rallied and delivered over 520,000 petition signatures calling on NBC to rescind Donald Trump’s “Saturday Night Live” hosting invitation, set for this weekend.

The #RacismIsntFunny campaign and petition drive is a collaborative effort between multiple organizations including America’s Voice, MoveOn.orgChange.org, CREDO Action, Latino Rebels, NCLR, UFW, VL Action, and many others.  See this blog post from America’s Voice, as well as this front-page Huffington Post article, to get a flavor for the energy around this effort.

Many celebrities, civil rights leaders, and others have expressed solidarity with the campaign and criticized Trump’s offensive stance on immigration.

Yesterday on Yahoo News, John Leguizamo declared that he would no longer watch Saturday Night Live.  Leguizamo explained: “I’m all for freedom of speech, but this is different”—citing the fact that Trump is not being invited onto a news program like 60 Minutes, where he can explain his views as a candidate, but is being brought on to provide entertainment after saying “unacceptable” and “insulting” things about immigrants.  “You’re celebrating someone who has said some horrible things,” Leguizamo said.

In addition, yet another group of artists and leaders expressed their outrage with Trump’s immigration positions, pointing out that his rhetoric and policies have not only coarsened the political but lead to acts of violence.  The letter, signed by such notables as Diego Luna and Jorge Castañeda, was first published by Univision.com.  According to TIME’s translation of the letter, it says: “[Trump’s] hate speech appeals to lower passions like xenophobia, machismo, political intolerance and religious dogmatism. All of which inevitably reminds us of the past campaigns that have been directed against other ethnic groups and that have resulted in the deaths of millions of people. In fact, the physical aggressions against Hispanics and repeated calls to prohibit the public use of the Spanish language have already started.”

In TIME, Sergio I. Garcia-Rojas summarizes the connection between this groundswell of activism against Saturday Night Live and the top political story on everyone’s minds: who will win the presidency in 2016.  He sees a clear political cost that should concern the GOP:

“In my research, using a large, historic range of survey data from 1960 to 2006 I also found that when faced with discrimination, such as Trump’s comments, Latino identity is embraced at higher rates and results in greater political action. NBC might not cancel Trump’s appearance on SNL. Ratings are ratings, after all. But the fact that Latinos across all ideological lines are reacting so strongly and are staying united says more about Trump’s chances for election in 2016.”

Leaders from the effort against Trump’s SNL appearance had the following quotes:

Marlena Fitzpatrick with Latino Rebels said, “We have united in solidarity to demand respect to our community. Racism, bigotry and hate speech aren’t funny. Latino Rebels calls for end to this rhetoric and we invite all communities to help change the current narrative, not only in media, but in politics.”

Jessica Reeves, chief operating officer at VL Action Network, said, “VL Action Network proudly rallied alongside national organizations in delivering these half a million petitions to Saturday Night Live. Accountability does not end here. The Latino community will not be a punching bag for Donald Trump, and it is up to SNL to take a stance against hate. We continue to  urge SNL and Lorne Michaels to eliminate Trump’s appearance from their lineup this Saturday and prove that human dignity is worth more than ratings.”

Rashad Robinson, Executive Director of ColorOfChange.org, said, “This week, Saturday Night Live will provide yet another platform for Donald Trump’s dangerous racism and xenophobia by allowing him to host their November 7th episode. As one of the most popular late-night sketch comedy shows of all time, SNL has a wide influence on pop culture. By selecting Donald Trump as a host, they legitimize Trump’s unapologetic racism and fear-mongering and make the real-world violence he incites against people of color a laughing matter.”

MoveOn campaigner Alejandro Chavez said, “Trump’s rhetoric is hateful and unacceptable. That why so many MoveOn members are calling on Saturday Night Live to Dump Trump.”

Janet Murguía, President and CEO, NCLR said: “According to Donald Trump, it was ‘SNL’ Executive Producer Lorne Michaels’ idea to have Trump host, not just do a cameo like other candidates. This was just one in a series of bad decisions by Michaels that include flouting his own company’s policy toward Trump, ignoring the very legitimate concerns that have been raised as to why ‘SNL’ would give an entire show over to someone who has staunchly promoted bigotry, and finally, failing for the last 40 years to give Latino and Latina talent a similar platform. Michaels’ silence is damning and his and NBC’s failure to respond is insulting and disrespectful.”

CREDO Deputy Political Director Mushed Zaheed said, “There’s mounting evidence that Donald Trump’s racist demagoguery is resulting in real-world violence and physical and verbal intimidation.  It’s irresponsible and dangerous for NBC to provide Trump with a free national platform to bolster his racist and xenophobic campaign.”

And Juan Escalante, Digital Campaigns Manager at America’s Voice and the author of the #RacismIsntFunny petition, said: “Some people in media and politics—like the executives at NBC and Saturday Night Live executive director Lorne Michael—still don’t get it.  Inviting Donald Trump to host SNL is insulting, because racism and bigotry just isn’t funny.  It’s unacceptable to treat our community like a joke. Our communities will continue to work together to demonstrate their power, and drive the message to anyone who is willing to give a platform to those who attack Latinos and immigrants alike.  Mass deportation isn’t funny, neither is the portrayal of hard working families as ‘murderers’ or ‘rapists.’”