Mainstreaming Anti-Israel Prejudice…and Anti-Semitic Stereotypes?..among the “Casual Left”

The replacement for Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” is named Trevor Noah. His Twitter stream has revealed some…interesting…”jokes,” like this one:

South Africans know how to recycle like Israel knows how to be peaceful.

Apparently, the Israel-is-an-aggressor meme has oozed its way into the popular consciousness to the degree that Israel is stereotypically non-peaceful in the way that dogs stereotypically dislike cats.  I expect this sort of thing will go over quite well with the audience (generally left-leaning, I feel sure) of The Daily Show.  They will also probably like this one:

When flying over the middle of America the turbulence is so bad. It’s like all the ignorance is rising through the air.

…although perhaps this won’t go over as well coming from a non-American (Noah is South African) as it would coming from a suitably hipsterish American.


Here’s another example of Trevor Noah’s humor:

Behind every successful Rap Billionaire is a double as rich Jewish man.

I don’t think there is any “right to not be offended,” and I don’t generally have a problem with ethnic humor–but these jokes of Noah’s seem pretty mean-spirited as well as not particularly funny. And his hostility toward Israel  seems to be deeper than just as a platform for bad jokes:  see this and note his apparently-approving tweet about what he specifically calls an “anti-Israel protest.”

I wouldn’t normally be too concerned about a few Jewish jokes by someone about to be handed a very powerful microphone, unfunny and in bad taste though those jokes be–but we live in an era when anti-Semitism is on the rise, especially in Europe and also in Noah’s native South Africa, and and era when the President of the United States was a long-time member of Jeremiah Wright’s church and is presently a frequent consorter with Al Sharpton.

In the excellent made-for-German-TV movie Dresden (my review here), which is set during the last months of WWII, one of the characters is a Jewish man named Simon Goldberg, who has been allowed to remain at liberty so far only because of his marriage to a gentile woman.  He is, however, taunted by children on the street:

Jew-boy, Jew-boy, tell me quick

How it is you do your tricks?

When I saw this movie in 2009, I would have deprecated the idea that there was any serious danger of things like this happening on the streets of an American city.  It no longer seems so totally improbable.  Trevor Noah’s line  Behind every successful Rap Billionaire is a double as rich Jewish man does not go as far as Jew-boy, Jew-boy, tell me quick / How it is you do your tricks?

…but it points in the same direction, the stereotyping of Jews as exploitive tricksters.

The post at the leftist blog Mondoweiss (linked above) says:

We welcome Noah too. Jon Stewart was always too careful/cute about the conflict for our taste. Noah is more likely to solidify a cultural trend: more and more young Democrats, women and people of color are taking a very dim view of the belligerent actions of the so-called only democracy in the Middle East.

Certainly, comedy can have a substantial political influence, and I’m afraid that in America today there are a substantial number of people who get their political news and opinion only or mainly from pseudo-news/pseudo-humor/ain’t-I-cool sources such as The Daily Show.

In the memoirs of Sebastian Haffner (my review here), he tells of the day when the Nazis came to the Prussian Supreme Court, the Kammergericht, and destroyed what remained of the judicial system’s independence.  That evening, Haffner went with his girlfriend to a nightclub called the Katacombe, where the master of ceremonies was a comedian named Werner Fink:

His act remained full of harmless amiability in a country where these qualities were on the liquidation list. This harmless amiability hid a kernel of real, indomitable courage. He dared to speak openly about the reality of the Nazis, and that in the middle of Germany. His patter contained references to concentration camps, the raids on people’s homes, the general fear and general lies. He spoke of these things with infinitely quiet mockery, melancholy, and sadness. Listening to him was extraordinarily comforting…The Kammergericht had fallen, but the Katacombe stood upright.

We need more comedians like Werner Fink…people who really do possess the courage to “speak the truth to power”….and fewer like Trevor Noah, who pretend to courage while mocking accepted and pre-designated targets.

10 thoughts on “Mainstreaming Anti-Israel Prejudice…and Anti-Semitic Stereotypes?..among the “Casual Left””

  1. What I call “the casual left” is nicely described in this paragraph from Ed Driscoll:

    “Comedy Central knows that Jon Stewart’s viewers are cheap dates. They are not very bright, and they are not very interested in the world around them. The function of The Daily Show is to flatter the prejudices of a certain segment of largely white and middle-aged metropolitan liberals. Daily Show viewers are not interested in original insight — indeed, the utterance of an original thought or the indulgence of an unpredictable angle of analysis would undermine the entire structure of the program. Daily Show viewers tune in so that they can be made to feel clever for continuing to believe the things they already believe. There is no reason to believe that Noah is going to fail to deliver those exceedingly modest goods.”

  2. There are plenty of people who are not interested in original insight, original thought or an unpredictable angle of analysis. I used to work with a few. Only one was actually stupid, the rest were fairly bright. I don’t think any of them had much in the way of a non-scientific education, mind. Among the young a decent non-scientific education is becoming pretty rare, I guess. Am I wrong on that?

  3. Dearieme….”Among the young a decent non-scientific education is becoming pretty rare, I guess”….so is a decent *scientific* education, I’m afraid, except for those specializing in scientific fields. For too many people, their education is like that received by the sociologist in C S Lewis’s novel That Hideous Strength:

    “It must be remembered that in Mark’s mind hardly one rag of noble thought, either Christian or Pagan, had a secure lodging. His education had been neither scientific nor classical–merely ‘modern.'”

    Among those who *do* specialize in scientific and engineering fields, I’m not sure how many get a decent exposure to history, philosophy, languages, etc….it’s probably not a very bright picture, but may be no worse, or not much worse, than the picture among those who *aren’t* taking a heavy science-related courseload.

  4. (continued re Dearieme’s question)…I can’t find my copy at the moment, but there’s an interesting book, The German Catastrophe, by a German historian attempting to analyze what went wrong. One of his arguments is that there were a considerable number of people who had a good technical education and successful careers, never bothered much about politics or philosophy, but developed an interest in political matters when they were 40 or so…and had no real reference points.

  5. On that note, see this little piece and especially this quote from it.

    The reason for this, he claimed, is that innovation depends on individuals who are willing to pursue unconventional, or even controversial, ideas. Such individuals are increasingly rare outside of Silicon Valley, where “the most successful entrepreneurs seem to have a mild form of Asperger’s that allows them to operate unconstrained by social conventions.

    He is referring to conformity but the “Asperger” reference is also significant. I don’t really think Silicon Valley engineers have Asperger’s but they do have a certain single mindedness that we (I was one at one time.) used to joke about.

    When I was working as an engineer, sports car rallies were a big deal. Engineers really got into them and had guys riding in the passenger seat with a circular slide rule (Computers filled a first floor) to calculate the times to a tenth of a second. I haven’t heard much about sports car rallies in years and theorize that engineers made them too dull, sort of like gamers.

    Thiel is a Ron Paul supporter and probably has little interest in Iran or Israel.

  6. The weak will do what they can, the Strong will do what they must.

    And yes, it’s that time again.

  7. Concern over anti-Semitism is far down on my list of worries, vile though it is. The ongoing abolition of the rights guaranteed in the Constitution concerns me the most.

  8. “The cause of all these evils was the desire for power, which greed and ambition inspire. To this must be added the violent fanaticism which came into play once the strugle had broken out. Leaders of parties in the cities had programmes which appeared admirable—on one side political equality for the masses, on the other the safe and sound government of the aristocracy—but in professing to serve the public interest they were seeking to win the prizes for themselves. In their struggles for ascendancy nothing was barred; terrible indeed were the actions to which they committed themselves, and in taking revenge they went farther still. Here they were deterred neither by the claims of justice nor by the interests of the state; their one standard was the pleasure of their own party at that particular moment, and so, either by means of condemning their enemies on an illegal vote or by violently usurping power over them, they were always ready to satsify the hatreds of the hour.”

    Human nature never changes. Never.

  9. ErisGuy…it is not merely the whiff of anti-Semitism that bothers me about Noah; it is also the expression of contempt for Americans and the smug, sneering attitude…which is a key part of the belief packaged used to attack Constitutional rights.

  10. which is a key part of the belief packaged used to attack Constitutional rights

    You are, of course, correct.

    The course America is on has no visible end, nor any visible bend in the road; only rapids and shoals approach.

    The voters who chose Obama twice will get what they deserve, but not before these voters flog the objects of their contempt and hatred.

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