Saturday Night Live (SNL) decided to bring back transphobic comedian Dave Chappelle and he reinforced antisemitic stereotypes.
During his monologue, Chappelle said he denounced antisemitism while proceeding to reinforce antisemitic stereotypes. The only reason why I know this is from the news alerts and social media outrage. Outside of the recent Paul Rudd episode during the Omicron surge, I’ve been largely boycotting Saturday Night Live because of Michael Che’s open transphobia during Weekend Update but I’m done. Bringing Chappelle on as the host of last night’s episode is the straw that broke the camel’s back. I kept thinking that they would improve–maybe Michael Che would have departed and made the show fine for me to watch again. The way it was going recently, that’s the direction in which I was headed. But in order to write this piece, I had no choice but to watch the monologue. Otherwise, I’m done.
But no. They brought on Dave Chappelle–a comedian with no shortage of transphobic comedy in recent Netflix comedy specials. While most people called out his special for the transphobic content, his antisemitic jokes got a free pass. I’m not surprised by this because, as David Baddiel writes, Jews Don’t Count. It wasn’t okay in fall 2021 and it’s most definitely not okay now. Outside of the Jewish community, it’s a good bet that many of you weren’t paying attention to his antisemitic “Space Jews” joke because you were rightfully calling out his transphobic special.
Chappelle started by unfolding a piece of paper and saying the following statement:
I denounce antisemitism in all its forms. And I stand with my friends in the Jewish community. And that, Kanye, is how you buy yourself some time.
He then went onto say that there are “two words in the English language that you should never say together in sequence: ‘The’ and ‘Jews.’”
And then there’s this:
“I’ve been to Hollywood and — no one get mad at me — I’m just telling you what I saw. It’s a lot of Jews. Like a lot. But that doesn’t mean anything! You know what I mean? Because there are a lot of Black people in Ferguson, Missouri, it doesn’t mean we run the place.”
Chappelle is playing right into the stereotype of Jews controlling the media. I should remind you right now that neither Ted Sarandos nor Reed Hastings are Jewish. It’s hard to take him sincere because of the aforementioned “Space Jews” joke. Again, bringing him back to host is simply unacceptable. One has to wonder what Lorne Michaels is thinking here. Why is he signing off on jokes that allow an SNL host to engage in antisemitic stereotypes? Why is Lorne Michaels allowing this when antisemitism is at the worst levels it has been in recent years?
As if discussing Kanye West isn’t enough, Chappelle also discusses Kyrie Irving.
“Kanye got in so much trouble that Kyrie got in trouble. This is where I draw the line. I know the Jewish people have been through terrible things all over the world, but you can’t blame that on Black Americans. Thanks, the one person that said ‘woo.’”
Anti-Defamation League (ADL) CEO Jonathan Greenblatt chimed in on Twitter:
“We shouldn’t expect @DaveChappelle to serve as society’s moral compass, but disturbing to see @nbcsnl not just normalize but popularize #antisemitism. Why are Jewish sensitivities denied or diminished at almost every turn? Why does our trauma trigger applause?”
Time Out New York‘s Adam Feldman points out that Chappelle did more to normalize antisemitism than Kanye West.
Screenwriter Amalia Levari referred to the monologue as a “TED Talk about how antisemitic dog-whistles are good, actually.”
Comedy writer Bess Kalb was also among those critical of Chappelle. Kalb proposes a test to determine if someone’s joke is antisemitic:
If you replace “Jewish people” with another race is it racist? Are you making a uniquely terrifying time cute?
The short answer is yes, it is racist. And with that, Saturday Night Live has forever lost me as a viewer.
Watch the monologue for yourself:
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