Lately I’ve been getting “Dear Mark” emails from Jack Rosen, president of the American Jewish Congress, asking me to sign an AJCongress petition calling on Jon Stewart not to “let a sexist anti-Semite be your successor.” And, moreover, because Daily Show heir-designate Trevor Noah is also “not funny.”
Now I realize that the Stewart-to-Noah question is as consequential for this century as the Cronkite-to-Rather question was for the last. I also acknowledge that since the demise of the Borscht Belt, the American Jewish Congress has served as the Sanhedrin of American humor.
Nevertheless, I reserve the right to explore the petition’s evidentiary basis, at least as far as the anti-Semitism charge goes. (I’ll leave the sexism and the “not funny” to those more qualified to pronounce, mostly.)
So here is the Noah tweet that trades on the stereotype of rich Jews:
Behind every successful Rap Billionaire is a double as rich Jewish man. #BeatsByDreidel
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) May 12, 2014
And here’s Stewart (the Jew) trading on the same stereotype: “Now for you Jews out there who may know what yud zayin bet tamuz and tisha b’av are, [sotto voce] there’s a meeting tonight at 3 a.m. behind the Federal Reserve bank.”
Edging into the sexism territory, there’s this Noah tweet:
Surely Stewart (the Jew) wouldn’t go in for something so vulgar — unless, of course, he could give it a political twist. As in:
Netanyahu wrapped his speech up, and it was time for another ten minutes of applause. Whether or not Netanyahu achieved his goal of sabotaging a deal with Iran or mistakenly opened up a rift with In U.S. – Israeli relations, one thing is certain: The In-Chamber response to this speech was by far the longest blow job a Jewish man has ever received.
Over at Breitbart, John Nolte headlined his account of the remark, “JON STEWART USES NETANYAHU SPEECH TO MOCK JEWISH WOMEN AS FRIGID.” I’d say Nolte flunked high school health if he really thinks that frigidity is the issue. Do Jewish women consider the actual stereotype in question an insult? Just asking.
Finally, there’s this tweet of Noah’s:
Almost bumped a Jewish kid crossing the road. He didn’t look b4 crossing but I still would hav felt so bad in my german car!
— Trevor Noah (@Trevornoah) September 18, 2009
I guess this is a Holocaust joke because it was the Germans who conducted the Holocaust (killing Jews) and so Noah thinks he would feel bad about hitting the careless Jewish kid with his Mercedes. Whatever, it hardly rises to the level of the infamous Anne Frank joke told by Ricky Gervais on the Daily Show.
Personally, I’m prepared to give Noah a chance to show what he can do when he’s not tweeting — as Stewart himself asks. And if the South African Jewish community is also prepared to give their landsman a chance, then maybe Rosen and company should at least defer judgment.
While they’re doing so, they might ponder the nature of identity politics, entertainment division, by watching Chris Rock’s famous stand-up routine, “The one time white ppl can say nigga.” And think about when gentile comedians can say “Jew.”