Dave Chappelle made his return to Saturday Night Live, and in doing so, made all the right people mad. The consternation started during the week prior with writers on the show threatening to boycott his appearance. If that’s not a testament to the thin-skinned, partisan nature of the entertainment industry, I’m not sure what is.
Chappelle eventually showed up to tape the episode, and he showed out. He did a segment on why some people trust Donald Trump that was very instructive. You could hear a pin drop at certain points as the mostly leftwing audience waited for what he was going to say, but in the end, he had them rolling as he always does.
I maintain it’s impossible not to like Chappelle, but sure enough, there are people on the left who are doing their best to try. Naturally, that means accusing the comedian of being anti-Semitic.
But while he made a point to avoid the topic that has seemingly consumed him for the past couple of years, Chappelle may have dug himself an even deeper hole by–deliberately–defending the essence of Kanye West’s antisemitic rhetoric through comedy.
The comedian entered the room and began by reading a brief 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.”…
…Chappelle went on to explain that over his 35-year career, he has come to learn that there are “two words in the English language that you should never say together in sequence: ‘The’ and ‘Jews.'” And he had some strong jokes about West’s “death con 3” tweet and the ramifications he faced from Adidas and others for his words.
“It’s a big deal, he had broken the show business rules,” Chappelle said. “You know, the rules of perception. If they’re Black, then it’s a gang. If they’re Italian, it’s a mob. If they’re Jewish, it’s a coincidence and you should never speak about it.”
Context is everything, right? And the context here was not an unmedicated rant on some podcast. Kanye West clearly has mental issues, and he’s admitted that publically, even after his most recent anti-Semitic tirade. On the other hand, Chappelle is telling jokes, and it is the job of a comedian to take someone happening within the culture and then make fun of it. It is that connection to contemporary society coupled with controversial topics that make a joke funny. If Chappelle was just riffing on farts his whole career, we wouldn’t know his name.
Besides, I think anytime you are talking about anti-Semitism, you have to take at least some time to judge the intent behind what is being said. Is someone really trying to stir up another Holocaust? Do they truly hate Jews? Or did they say something out of ignorance? Or, as in the case of Chappelle, were they just telling jokes? Again, the context matters, and rushing to cancel everyone who gets within ten feet of something that could even be perceived as anti-Semitism is an overreaction.
We have to have more grace than that. Unfortunately, outlets like The Daily Beast aren’t going to give it because their hit piece isn’t actually about anti-Semitism. It’s about the fact that Chappelle gored one of their sacred cows by making fun of the transgender lobby on his Netflix special. Thus, Chappelle must be destroyed, and they’ll never stop trying to take him down.