Why we must all stand against anti-Semitism, now more than ever.
The last 24-48 hours for me have been a rather frightening and revealing look into how much anti-Semitic sentiment has permeated our global society.
I am not someone who is easily offended; I’ve got big shoulders. Truth be told, I myself have been critical of the P.C. obsessed mob, those who seem to yearn for, and look for reasons to be offended by, seemingly anything from anywhere (I actually agree with Jim Norton’s piece in Time magazine regarding the Trevor Noah controversy to a certain degree, thank you again for the courteous back and forth Jim).
I am a staunch supporter of free speech and freedom of creative expression, even if the words spoken or manifested creativity is something I do not agree with, I will, as Voltaire said, “fight to the death for your right to say it”.
However, many people confuse the right to “free speech” as being a license to say whatever they want without consequence. That simply isn’t reality. Your right to free speech prevents the government from being able to prosecute you for such words, but it does not, and should not, prevent the court of public opinion from then being able to judge you based on those words, to respond accordingly, and potentially even protest those words, in a peaceful/non violent manner. That’s true free speech, it’s a two way street. That’s true freedom.
As Winston Churchill said, “Some people’s idea of free speech is that they are free to say what that they like, but if anyone says anything back, it’s an outrage”. That simply isn’t true. Besides, if speech were suppressed, we may not know who some of the true wolves in sheep’s clothing are out there. People being allowed to speak freely, enables us to find out who they really are, and I would never trade that right for anything.
I supported the Je Suis Charlie campaign when the Charlie Hebdo terrorist massacre happened, because even though I think insulting other people’s religions is in incredibly bad taste, it doesn’t justify acts of terrorism and murder (lets call a spade a spade here, Charlie Hebdo has published a plethora of anti-Semitic cartoons over the course of their existence, but no acts of terror were committed and no physical attacks made, nor should there have been). I would take just as much issue with images that incite hatred of any race, creed, or religion, but as I said before, I have, and will continue to, fight for the right to express them/make them. I appreciate it when people take their masks off. This way I can prepare accordingly.
I also supported the #GamerGate online campaign against the censorship of creative expression in the video game space, because I still do not believe that anyone has the right to tell anyone else what they can and cannot do in their leisure time. I don’t want another Tipper Gore style PMRC scenario where people feel they have the right to choose what music and art you listen to or enjoy.
I would however like you to try an experiment. Type the word anti-Semitism into your search engine, and see what comes up.
The results will shock you.
The number of anti-Semitic incidents and attacks that have been perpetuated over the past year worldwide is staggering. They are at levels I have not seen in my lifetime, and they are not only directed at “The State of Israel”, or “The Israeli Government”, or even “Israeli’s” in general. They are directed at Jews, all Jews, all over the globe, whether they are of Israeli descent or whether they support the State of Israel or not.
The horrific events of the last Gaza war have enabled sleeping anti-Semites all over the world, who have been relatively subdued for some time, to reveal themselves. Thanks to freedom of speech, we now know who many of them are (all they needed was an open door and an excuse to continue spewing their baseless hatred). I would never take away their right to expose themselves. I like it when people take their masks off. At least I know who is a threat and who isn’t.
So why then did I take such strong issue with the prospective new “Daily Show” host, Trevor Noah’s history of “Jew jokes”?
Things like, “Almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. He didn’t look before crossing, but I would have felt so bad in my German car!” or, “Muslims don’t hate Jews, Jews hate Muslims”, or “Behind every successful Rap Billionaire is a double as rich Jewish man” or, “South Africans know how to recycle just like Israel knows how to be peaceful”.
Surely these aren’t the worst anti-Semitic slurs/jokes that I have ever heard, why take such offense?
Because I am tired of seeing the “tastemakers” of the world continue to perpetuate the anti-Semitic stereotypes and notions expressed in the “jokes” above. I’m tired of today’s youth thinking that it is “en vogue” to hate on the Jewish people. I’m tired of seeing people frightened, hiding their heritage for fear of anti-Semitic persecution.
Mr. Noah was picked to be the host of a widely watched television show, and with great power/reach also should come at least some responsibility. Many have said that since some of the statements were made years ago, that means they shouldn’t really matter; I wasn’t aware that there was an expiration date on hatred. If these were just “jokes” as everyone is insisting, let him also say publically that he denounces anti-Semitism and baseless hatred in all its forms. He had the right to say those things, he said them, shouldn’t people directly affected by them be able to respond to such statements with justifiable disdain? If you want to say that comedians are comedians, and that creative expression is absolute, and that no apology should be necessary for such statements (although friends sometimes mistakenly push things too far with one another/cross a line, apologize and move on), don’t these statements at the very least merit some explanation and clarification beyond saying that, and I quote Trevor here,
“To reduce my views to a handful of jokes that didn’t land is not a true reflection of my character, nor my evolution as a comedian”.
Is that enough? Does that convince anyone that he doesn’t truly believe the things he was implying in those “jokes”?
In this free society that we have created, some have insisted that people’s right to free speech justifies hate speech. Having the freedom to say it, and it being “justified”, are two entirely different things.
The recent rise of global anti-Semitism, people’s general “laissez-faire” attitude towards it, and the liberal Mainstream Media’s virulent anti-Israel narrative and agenda, has enabled it to spread and grow like wildfire. So in this troubling time, perhaps it is more prudent to avoid making “jokes” about it?
I don’t want to censor anyone for any reason, but I also don’t want a potentially anti-Semitic host of a popular television show perpetuating the sorts of stereotypes that only increase hatred. So clarify, if not apologize at the very least?
In the midst of this fervor, I decided to conduct an experiment using the #GamerGate movement as a test audience, who are for absolute freedom of speech and creative expression.
After a few of them had tweeted rather abrasive and anti-Semitic supporting statements regarding my original tweet to Trevor, a statement I made in anger, admittedly, and my request for support, I decided to test them.
I had gotten reports from people on all sides of the spectrum that many #GamerGate supporters had anti-Semitic leanings, which at the time I doubted, because I had seen no evidence of such sentiment save a few random “internet trolls” here and there (my sincere apologies to those who informed me of such).
I demanded that all my #GamerGate supporting followers tweet that they stood firmly opposed to anti-Semitism, even if they couldn’t see the harm in Trevor’s statements, that I couldn’t remain supportive of those who did not condemn anti-Semitism, nor were they welcome as followers of my page. I gave everyone one day to pick a side. Do you condemn or condone anti-Semitism? There is no neutrality when it comes to hate.
The response was shocking to say the least. The sudden outpouring of anti-Semitic jargon and venom spewed into my twitter feed was staggering. It seems that you only need open the door for some people and they will just walk right in. By the end of the day, between my exchange with Jim Norton (Still love ya Jim, at least you were willing to say that you fully condemn anti-Semitism), and the flood of hate from #GamerGate “supporters”, I had been forced to block and report over 250+ people.
Something as simple as saying “I condemn anti-Semitism” was apparently too much to ask for most, thankfully not all. Although I will always stand against censorship, in games, in art, in everything, but I will also stand with my conscience and in the defense of my people and my family when the right to “free speech” exposes a hate monger for what they are, and will raise my voice in protest to their words with my own right to free speech. There is no hypocrisy there, and those who do not understand or see that, are blinded by their own “lust to offend” (the opposite exists too Jim).
This is the state of things. Anti-Semitism has become accepted, “en vogue”, and even been “normalized” to some degree.
This status quo is unacceptable to say the least. Many have tried to say Trevor’s statements are ok because his mother is a converted Jew. I know many comedians, even Jewish ones have made Jewish jokes and even jokes about the Holocaust in the past, but given the wave of hatred that is currently engulfing the world, don’t we owe it to ourselves to be more sensitive to this alarming trend and do what we can to change people’s false perceptions, not enforce them? Do we just sit back and watch while innocents are attacked en masse, simply because of their heritage?
I’m a fan of pushing the envelope when it comes to art, music, film, and even comedy; but given the fact that anti-Semitic hate crimes are so rampant now, more than I have ever seen before in my lifetime, is now really the appropriate time for such “humor”?
How can I look in my sons face and not do everything in my power to ensure he can grow up in a world where he does not need fear persecution for simply having Jewish blood in him?
My family are survivors of the holocaust, an event many anti-Semites are trying to say never happened;
The article below might give you some insight as to why this is a “hot button” topic for me.
I will not betray my family by standing idle as the trend of media accepted/endorsed anti-Semitism continues to spread.
I will use my right to free speech the same way others have to expose themselves, to condemn anti-Semitism wherever and whenever it rears it’s ugly and incendiary head.
I can sincerely say that I hope Trevor, all artists, and all of humanity, take a stand against this spread of hatred. If he was in fact “just joking”, then I encourage him and others to tweet the following hash-tag;
I hope and pray to one day not have to worry about the future my son is growing into, and wish for a world filled with peace, respect, and love for fellow human beings.