Fey is back on SNL’s “Weekend Update” and back in her element, which is pretending to eat entire cakes by herself:
Fey’s point about “sheetcaking” demonstrations by white supremacists boils down to this: “Treat these rallies like you would the opening of a thoughtful comedy with two female leads—don’t show up.” The idea is that counter-protests and media attention are like oxygen for these groups. Fey also got in a dig at the media: “Who drove the car into the crowd, Hillary’s emails?” she jokes at one point, because Fey is nothing if not dedicated to the art of amusing wine moms in minivans across America.
To be more generous: Fey, who graduated from the University of Virginia, probably isn’t seriously suggesting that would-be protesters stress-eat at home. Even so, it’s worth examining the idea at the center of her bit. Should protesters stay home? After the events of Charlottesville, it’s problematic to suggest that they should. After all, when white supremacists are allowed to stage spectacles unchallenged, white supremacists benefit.
The battle over Confederate statues is essentially a battle over public space. As long as the statues remain, white supremacists can correctly claim that this is their space, shaped by their politics. This claim demands a rival claim. Protest, in this case, becomes an act of reclamation. It is dangerous, yes, it gives neo-Nazis media coverage, yes, but it’s impossible to win if you stay home. And you can always bring the sheetcake with you to the protest.