This past week, two American comedians managed to spark controversies regarding anti-Semitism. The first came from Dave Chappelle, whose most recent stand-up routine included two jokes that played on ugly Jewish stereotypes, and an even uglier view of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. While some Jews have condemned Chappelle—joining in the louder clamor over his comments about transsexuals—Ruthie Blum cautions against taking humor too seriously:
To be sure, the implication [of these jokes] is appalling, not amusing. The trouble is that the outcry against Chappelle for rejecting “woke” political correctness isn’t funny either. On the contrary, his “blasphemy” against the language and thought police is like a breath of fresh air in a polluted societal environment. Moreover, he’s an equal-opportunity offender. In his routine, he repeatedly uses the “N-word,” refers to women [with a crass epithet], and claims that “what the feminist movement needs to be successful is a male leader.”
[A] piece of advice . . . for the American Jews who were horrified by his anti-Semitism: expend more effort combating the vile phenomenon where it most matters in the United States these days—in the Democratic party. This might be a tall order, though. The vast majority of those concerned by the likes of Chappelle not only belong to that side of the aisle [politically] but have contributed greatly to, if are not mainly responsible for, the current climate that borders on cultural totalitarianism.
It’s fine to call a comic to task for crossing a line. Doing so is what free speech is all about. Prohibiting comedians from being sacrilegious, on the other hand, is a sign of a sad—and dangerous—society.
Something similar can be said about the Jewish comedian Sarah Silverman, who raised sincere complaints about Gentile actors playing obviously Jewish roles—while other instances of cross-ethnic acting invite the ire of the politically correct. Though there is undoubtedly a double standard, Jonathan Tobin argues that Jews should not race to jump on the woke bandwagon:
Jews need to realize that they have thrived because America is a place where you are judged as an individual, not solely as a member of a group—be it privileged or unprivileged—which is the way critical race theory categorizes everyone. Aligning with the woke frame of reference about casting may give a few more juicy Jewish roles to Jewish actors, yet doing so would mire us further into the morass of entitlement and moral panic about race that is antithetical to the best interests of Jews as well as everyone else.