Jon Stewart weighed in on the antisemitism debate surrounding Dave Chappelle, Kanye “Ye” West and Kyrie Irving throughout a visitor look on CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday night time.
Giving one in all his characteristically nuanced-yet-contrarian takes, Stewart earnestly advised his former Daily Show colleague that he doesn’t “believe censorship and penalties are the way to end antisemitism.”
Stewart referred to as Chappelle his “very good friend” within the wake of Chappelle’s Saturday Night Live monologue, which the Anti-Defamation League has described as “popularizing antisemitism.”
Stewart rejected the concept that Chappelle “normalized antisemitism,” and stated: “I don’t know if you’ve been on comments sections on most news articles, but it’s pretty fucking normal … I don’t believe that censorship and penalties are the way to end antisemitism or to not gain understanding. I don’t believe in that. I think it’s the wrong way to approach it.”
He referenced Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving’s suspension on account of selling an anti-Jewish movie on Twitter. “Penalizing somebody for having a thought, I don’t think is the way to change their minds or gain understanding,” he stated. “This is a grown-ass man and to say, ‘We’re going to put you in a time out, you’re going to sit in a corner and stare at the wall until you no longer believe the Jews control the international banking system.’ We have to get past this in the country. People think Jews control Hollywood. People think Jews control the banks. And to pretend that they don’t and to not deal with it in a straightforward manner, we’ll never gain any kind of understanding with each other.”
Colbert pushed again a bit, suggesting that whereas individuals could have a proper to say what they need, equivalent to comics, viewers even have a proper to react and look at their materials nevertheless they see match.
“Reflexively naming things antisemitism is as reductive as some of the things they might be saying,” Stewart replied. “It immediately shuts down a conversation … comedy is reductive. We play with tropes because everybody has prejudice. Comics rely on those prejudices as a shorthand for our material. Even the woke-ist of comics plays with tropes to a certain extent.”
Stewart defined wounds equivalent to racial divides and antisemitism should be uncovered and the “general tenor of conversation in this country is to cover it up. Look at it from a Black perspective. It’s a culture that feels its wealth has been extracted by different groups – whites, Jews. Whether it’s true or not isn’t the issue, that’s the feeling in that community. And if you don’t understand that’s where it’s coming from than you can’t sit down and explain that being in an industry isn’t the same as having a nefarious and controlling interest in that industry.”
“Dave said something in the SNL monologue that I thought was constructive as well which is: ‘It shouldn’t be this hard to talk about things,’” he added. “And that is what we’re talking about. I can’t believe there aren’t a shit ton of people who believe that the Jews have an unreasonable amount of control over the systems and they wield them as puppet masters. I’m called antisemitic because I’m against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians … those [terms] shut down debate. They’re used as a cudgel. And whether it’s comedy or discussion or anything else, if we don’t have the wherewithal to meet each other with reality, then how do we move forward?”
At this, Colbert stared at Stewart silently after which his visitor continued. “We have our own tropes,” he stated. “Like: ‘A white person’s success is because of privilege. A minority’s success is empowerment. A Jew’s success — that’s a conspiracy.’ You feel that. I feel that. But I have to be able to express that to people. If I can’t say that’s bullshit and explain why, then where do we go? If we all just shut it down, then we retreat to our little corners of misinformation and it metastasis.”
Stewart put his hand on Colbert’s arm. “Does that make sense? I know you disagree with this.”
“You know what Jon? I don’t disagree with you,” Colbert replied. “I just wanted to say [echoing Chappelle’s dutifully read disclaimer at the top of his SNL monologue] — ‘I condemn antisemitism in all its forms and I stand with my friends in the Jewish community.’”
Presenting one other view on the matter, comic Hannah Einbinder posted on her Instagram tales earlier this week: “Yeah, the Chappelle monologue was littered with antisemitism. He did it masterfully … He had some solid jokes in that set … The laughter allowed for people to miss the reemphasis of conspiracy he sprinkled in … No one who laughs at the solid jokes would be willing to admit that there was antisemitism in that monologue, because that admission would then qualify them as complicit. ‘No one wants to feel like a bad person.’ The fact is: non-Jews aren’t as keenly aware of antisemitic ideas, tropes, verbiage, etc. Most people just missed these ideas altogether, and only remember that they laughed … The danger here is that Dave Chappelle, and every other male comedian who believes that their amplification of bigotry is just freedom of speech, are seen as tellers of hard truths, and thus anyone who criticizes them are seen as snowflakes. I invite you to reframe this narrative. These men who pick on marginalized groups are establishment bullies reinforcing the status quo — not at all the job of a comedian. It is the people who speak out ‘against’ them who are the truth tellers.”