Tuesday, October 12, 2021

The Enemy of My Enemy Is Still a Jerk: Dave Chappelle's Anti-Semitism and Homophobia and Polish-Jewish Relations



I have voted for both Republicans and Democrats for president. That's one way of saying that I do not have a tribe. Rather, what I have is ethics, ethics inspired by Jesus Christ. I really do ask myself, multiple times a day, "What would Jesus do?" I have yet to kill anyone in a road rage incident not because of my own self-control, but because of WWJD.


Ethics transcend tribal boundaries. I used to be active in gay rights. I lived in Bloomington, Indiana, where some local people were using the Bible as justification for writing to the local paper to recommend stoning gay people to death. I met a woman who had been dragged from a car because she was a lesbian. I met a young man, David Horne, who attempted suicide because he was a gay Christian.


My Good-Samaritan-inspired ethics say: people should not be tortured because they are gay. People should not kill themselves because they are gay. People should not be stoned to death because they are gay. Christianity should not be maligned as a murderer of gay people. So I became active in gay rights.


In more recent years, I have opposed extremism like what happened at WiSpa, where a male sex offender demanded and received the right to be naked in the women's section of a spa. I oppose medicine speaking of "pregnant people" instead of "pregnant women" and "human milk" instead of "breast milk," etc. I oppose the firing of Peter Vlaming, a beloved, veteran teacher, for referring to a female student as "she." She wanted to be called "he."


When I was active supporting gay rights, my comrades were mostly left-wing. In opposition to extremism, my comrades are mostly right-wing. Again, ethics transcend tribal boundaries.


Dave Chappelle is an American comedian. His fans worship him. Cults of personality are always a bad sign. Both of Chappelle's parents were college professors. He grew up rubbing elbows with celebrities and he attended a prestigious arts high school. He hails from comfortable Silver Springs, Maryland, a DC suburb, and Yellow Springs, Ohio, a university town. In spite of his privileged biography, Chappelle's career is built on exploitation of the race card. Chappelle's comedy depicts an America where all whites are racist haters and all blacks are helpless victims. Chappelle's net worth is estimated at $50 million.


Chappelle's home state of Ohio is a national center of "deaths of despair," often of poor and working class whites. "Drug overdoses, suicide and alcohol-related liver disease robbed Ohioans of 1.9 million years of life over the last decade … From 2010 through 2019 … the number of people dying each year increased 89%," reports the Canton Repository. The drug overdose death rate for whites in Ohio is "37.8 deaths per 100,000 population," according to the Ohio department of health. That's the sixth highest rate nationwide. I have listened to a couple of Chappelle specials and watched a couple episodes of his TV program and I've never heard him talk about the deadly crisis afflicting his home state. Mention of the suffering of white people might vitiate his insistence that only black people suffer in America, and it would undermine the points he earns by depicting himself as a brave warrior against intransigent American white supremacy.


Dave Chappelle, in addition to maligning whites and infantilizing blacks, makes fun of gay, lesbian, and transgender people. For this, conservatives embrace and elevate Chappelle. They are so grateful to him. Chappelle is considered edgy and powerful, in no small part simply because he is black, and many conservatives love it that an edgy and powerful black man bashes GLBT people. Many conservatives know that they, who are often white and not considered edgy and powerful, would be harshly condemned for saying what Chappelle says.


I find this spectacle really sad. Chappelle, by mocking GLBT people, is not striking any blow against extremism. He's just hurting vulnerable people.


Chappelle opened his most recent, and final, Netflix comedy special, "The Closer," with an anti-Semitic joke:


"In my movie idea, we find out that space aliens are originally from earth — that they're from an ancient civilization that achieved interstellar travel and left the earth thousands of years ago … Some other planet they go to, and things go terrible for them on the other planet, so they come back to earth, [and] decide that they want to claim the earth for their very own. It's a pretty good plotline, huh? I call it 'Space Jews.'"


Later, Chappelle talks about how some African Americans owned and mistreated slaves. He calls these African Americans "Space Jews."


"There was a Black man who was in South Carolina during slavery who somehow got granted his freedom … Not only was he a slave owner, he became a slave breeder, and employed tactics that were so cruel, even white slave owners were like, "Yo, my man!" … How can a person that went through slavery perpetuate the same evil on a person that looks just like him? It's mind blowing. And, shockingly, they're making a movie about him. Ironically, it's called "Space Jews."


The premise of Chappelle's joke is that


Jews are diabolically smart – they achieve interstellar travel


Jews are alien


They are not like us


They come from far away


They dominate us


Jews claim to be victims of prejudice but in fact Jews mistreat oppressed people


This is classic anti-Semitism.


So yeah it's grotesque to see "conservatives" embracing and elevating Chappelle. He is bashing GLBT people, and they like that. They can forgive his anti-white racism, his insistence that blacks are doomed in America, and his anti-Semitism.


My book, "Bieganski, the Brute Polak Stereotype," addresses stereotypes of Poles and other Bohunks as stupid, brutal, anti-Semites. One chapter of the book is devoted to a comparison between how the American popular press treats allegations of anti-Semitism made against African Americans, and allegations of anti-Semitism made against Poles. When a Pole makes an anti-Semitic statement, that event is treated much more seriously by the mainstream American press. When an African American makes an anti-Semitic statement, the American mainstream press minimizes, excuses, and relativizes the statement.


Israel Hayom begins its coverage with a very softball comment, "Dave Chapelle may not really be an antisemite but his new Netflix special contains some very antisemitic material … What Chapelle may think are harmless jokes…" The article continues in this vein, repeatedly making excuses for Chappelle.


Why even make such a weak comment? What kind of person makes anti-Semitic jokes? An anti-Semite. Call things as they are. Dave Chappelle has associated with Louis Farrakhan, who delivered a popular sermon alleging that "Hollywood" – read "Jews" and "homosexuals" – tried to force Chappelle to wear women's clothing. If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck, unless it's a popular African American entertainer.


What would happen if a prominent Polish person made the "space Jews" jokes? There would, quite literally, and very quickly, be an international incident. Diplomatic relations would be affected. There would be demands for apologies. There would be alarmed cries of another holocaust. The comments section of Jewish online publications would be full of outrage from Jews denouncing all Poles as irredeemable monsters. These comments, and mainstream op-eds, would rewrite history. They would argue that Poles have always been the "world's worst anti-Semites" and that no Poles rescued Jews and that the Poles and the Nazis were allies. Etc etc etc. We know this because this has happened before. Read "Bieganski." Read this blog. It's all documented.


Again, I have no tribe. I have ethics. Anti-Semitism is wrong. No matter who the anti-Semite is. And anti-Semitism is the problem, not ethnicity. I wish more people felt the same.

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Bieganski the Blog exists to further explore the themes of the book Bieganski the Brute Polak Stereotype, Its Role in Polish-Jewish Relations and American Popular Culture.
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