The Whites, The Blacks, The Yellows and Reds and Browns; The Jews and Muslims and Christians; The Straights, The Gays, The Men and Women; The Trans and Gender Non-Conforming: The Professionally Offended
Once upon a time Jews were the funniest people on earth. Back at the start of modern stand-up comedy, there were sharp Jews making fun of everything.
Some found them offensive.
Of course in recent years their talent, their deep insights into the hypocrisy of the human condition has been written away with an apology. I have actually heard someone say to whoever was beside them:
- Jews had no other choice but to be funny. If they weren’t then people would hate them even more.
This individual was flushed and offended with the idea that a Jewish person could make fun of anyone, especially themselves. This was offensive to this non-Jewish listener. If a Jew makes fun of Jews, they believe, they must hate themselves.
Such outraged people disregard talent, diminish art, and pretend that life is humorless, and nothing deserves mockery unless it fits in neatly with what they despise.
I’ve heard this about black people too, a harsh “how dare you!” to social parody, perhaps a targeted remark based on assumptions; a gag meant to piss a few high-strung people off while otherwise making a serious point about the absurdities of superficial prejudice.
A lot of people are left in wonder: people simmering with hatred over the idea that someone is insulting an historically oppressed group, and people such as myself: a born Jew with a dark outlook on humanity, can only laugh all of this off. Why is it that making fun of someone has suddenly become the worst thing one can do in a public voice?
Of course I’m talking about Dave Chappelle, but we will get to him shortly, the hero of this piece. To begin we should take on a few dismissive details, the consequences of stupidity.
People were deeply offended by the idiotic, momentarily passionate shrieks of Kanye West.
Let us pull back for a moment and consider the man. He decided to change his name. Officially. His new name is “Ye.” Ye. Ye? What the fuck is Ye? It’s some sort of grunt, or a bark or sound inside his head, the voice of the supreme entity he has chosen to take on as a personal identity. Perhaps he shouts “Ye ye ye!” when being penetrated.
To take anything seriously a man calling himself “Ye” says is the fault of those taking offense. It is the fault of those deciding that this man inspires them, really only allowing their greasy, innate prejudices to bubble over onto the surface, believing it is okay to express such . . . I don’t want to call it hatred, because hatred is pure passion. It’s no different, as the cliche goes, than love, for it becomes the focus of all attention . . . it allows such suspiciousness, such panicky feelings, such fear-inspired bigotry.
But Kanye–pardon me, Ye–did not inspire these thoughts in those people. He did not convert any person uncertain what they thought of Jews. But angry, the hurt and outraged people have managed to transform Kayne’s irrational silliness, words from an irrationally silly man, into a serious challenge to the idea of freedom. Such people, the deeply, hurtfully offended, are fools. Such people make pretty good lives for themselves being professionally outraged.
Yes, we can discuss the “woke,” a fundamentally idiotic term to describe a person with their own version of hatred deep inside their hearts, but that term will be waved away by those we refer to. The moment it became a pejorative, they sneered with puffy pretentiousness “We don’t use that word anymore,” just like any distracted social media addict staring into their phone for the next thing to inspire them to action. They laugh at people with different opinions, and express counter-intuitive hatred toward those they believe hate them. They stand up to defend people they believe are helpless, “what with the onslaught of racism and sexism and homo/transphobia,” and this is often counteracted by white power, or male supremacy, or whatever other cartoonish clowns huddle together shivering because they no longer wholly rule the world.
But the response, the imposed hurt feeling restrictions wanting to be implemented by the woke, their challenge of their own version of revisionist history, they try so hard to apologize for the past that they do not understand just how pointless their effort truly is.
We cannot change the past. We cannot ignore its influence on who we are today. All we can do is try to be better without ignoring the warning of the worst things we all have done.
The trend of recent years of recording the forgotten history of certain oppressed groups is a positive thing, opening up the past to deeper understanding. But there is also a simultaneous trend to be not so much informative as condemnatory, celebratory and vilifying, disregarding reality to place people as heroes even when many individuals were not. For example: slavery is the worst thing mankind has done to itself, but this does not make every slave heroic. There was plenty of racial treason, that of terrified people willing to betray even those closest to them in order to survive in a slightly better manner. And of course there were understandably rage-filled slaves, plotting outright massacres like perhaps the military tyrants they might be today. We cannot consider everyone from a systematically oppressed group someone worthy of our respect.
Kyrie Irving is a moron. Once known for insisting that the earth is flat, and standing by this so absolutely that he laughed at people disagreeing, calling them stupid. He is a terribly stupid man. Know why he believes the earth is flat? Because when he sees the sun rise or set, it appears to go up and down onto flat land or sea. He is not interested in basic science, in an effort to understand how and why things are. He’s just stupid.
The film that Kyrie promoted, probably without fully understanding it, is called Hebrews to Negros: Wake Up Black America. It is a goofy conspiratorial study about the increasingly age-old idea that Jews were not the true Israelites, are not “The Chosen People,” but usurpers, stealing the holy land from black people, who the film claims are “the true Israelites.” Here, take a look at its trailer (let’s see if I get in trouble for posting this; for mocking nonsense): https://www.imdb.com/video/vi4246125081/
The same idea in the past has been perpetuated by numerous groups, from the early Catholic church, then still populated by recently converted Jews, to white nationalists in the church of Christian Identity: https://www.adl.org/resources/backgrounders/christian-identity
But what is the purpose of this idea? Judaism, after all, is a belief system, not so much a racial identity. Sure, some Jews define themselves as members of a race, and others hate them for racist reasons, but it is a curious idea. I, declaring myself Jewish at the outset of this piece, by my own definition am not Jewish at all. I am not a follower of this faith, not the follower of any traditionally organized faith. I am not an atheist, but one, perhaps insane, who renounces textbook religion, and is a member of an isolated church of one. Members of large churches all believe the same things, but for very different reasons.
People like to shove the idea that God favors them over all others because it fills a deep hole in their suppressed sense of purposelessness, sometimes inferiority. But what if God is merely a cosmic blip, a celestial entity of pure energy without a thought for anything left in its wake? What if we are the result of a cosmological fart the maker isn’t even aware of? Why should such an omnipotent agent give a shit about us at all, with our arrogance believing that we are all there is in the endless reaches of a universe we will never comprehend? Why?
That is the real question we want answered: Why? We want to know why anything and everything happens, why there is this or that, and why such and such happened, and we question if what we hear is the actual truth, or is something being kept from us, and why is it being hidden, and why does the stock market go up and down and up and down, and gas prices, and food, and who should we blame? We need someone to blame. It must be someone other than ourselves’, fault.
And this is where that hatred comes in: the Jews (the most common historical target), blacks, Catholics, Muslims, the Irish, the Native aboriginals of every land conquered by every other group of people, those who suffered the fate of forced extinction throughout world history. On and on. Mexicans. The Chinese. Neanderthals. Swamp people. Vampires. The Lochness Monster.
When I was a teacher, the white guy in rooms full of mostly black students, I would ask them who they believed the most oppressed group of people in human history are. Of course the first response was understandably closest to home: “African-Americans Mr. P!” was usually the answer I got. I would acknowledge the validity of such a claim, especially considering the history we were learning in class, and then broaden the question to all of time. Several bright students would smile and wave their hands around and shout out “The Jews!” with academic sympathy. This led to a discussion of Jewish history and how, more than any other group of people, they were blamed for everything going wrong with the world. We read portions of The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion. This, of course, led to discussions of Adolf Hitler, which led to my saying “Hitler didn’t think he was evil, regardless of how easily we can define him today.” Some of the true anti-semites in the room, tragically mostly Muslims, would nod their heads, knowing nothing about the past. “No,” I would continue, “He was not some supervillain, Lex Luthor or Thanos seeking to conquer the world. He believed he was saving it. He believed he understood what was wrong and who to blame. This is no different than,” I said, looking to the Muslim anti-semites who’d lost interest by then, “say, the fundamentalists on 9/11. They did not think what they were doing was evil. No doubt some of them were unhappy killing people, their act not of hatred but the idea of salvation. They believed they were saving the world.”
My evaluation–and of course the students could disagree, their own prejudices or self-referencial obsessions overtaking their views on historical consequence–was that native aboriginals, the world over, have been treated the worst. (Or the Neanderthals, forcibly extinct.)
Inevitably I got complaints from parents, and was scolded by administrators, but this was before the organized outrage of today metastasized into thin-skinned offense over the potential meaning of everything. Angry people, with nothing else to do, sit and wait for something to offend them. Sometimes they impatiently seethe, looking to interpret something without context, or interest in what the individual is saying, or the purpose of their presentation, and they shout condemnation, label someone this or that, a racist or transphobe, expressed with such hatred that these terms themselves seem like racial slurs.
Which brings us to Dave Chappelle:
Now Dave Chappelle is a curious phenomenon. A brilliant showman, aware of the modern temperament and the dangers of saying certain things, yet brave enough to go through with it anyway. And this makes him phenomenally important, like plenty of other comics, truly a first amendment crusader that puts all the cheap antics of huffy right-wing, hypocritically pro-censorship stooges to shame. For you see, what Dave Chappelle does on stage is the very definition of free speech.
Now before we dismiss me, an otherwise nobody in a much larger debate, I should admit that I am pretty liberal in my politics. Most of the political pieces on this site are historical underminings of modern right-wing hypocrisy and paranoia. I vent on Donald Trump and his acolytes, warn of the future once his clown car is smashed beyond repair, and the true, competent fanatics take over his movement. I go after QAnon especially, comparing it to the early days of the Nazi Party in how it is expanding. I go after the far right, well, fanatically.
But do not mistake this for anything different. This righteous trend on the left is not left wing at all. It is anti civil liberties. It is bigotry. It is a shout coming from people who claim to believe in acceptance of everyone, and true equality, yet seek to destroy those who say things they find offensive. The right smugly calls this “cancel culture.” Reality calls it censorship. It is when people get in charge of social conversation and outlaw certain ideas. It is what the Soviets did. The Maoist Chinese. The Nazis . . .
There is a phenomenon as politics become more radical that right wing and left wing fundamentalism spin around full circle and imitate each other. The protest movements resemble one another down to the signs.
Look at them:
Now of course we’re going to take sides in these issues, and some people are certainly wrong as far as I, or anyone else, is concerned. But freedom is meant to be tolerance, and dueling intolerance displays a creaking split that destroys the idea of democracy. People are allowed to be assholes. Trying to censor their assholishness makes you the one who is wrong.
Dave Chappelle is not a transphobe. He is not an anti-semite. He is a comedian who attacks hypersensitivity, and laughs while he’s doing it. When people get up in arms because something offends them, then go and try to shout it down so it will never be heard again, they are the bad guys. They are saying the wrong thing. They are offensive.
One forgets the purpose of comedy. Bill Maher, a one-time liberal icon somehow, despite not changing much in his views, has been encapsulated inside a presumed alt-right bubble for challenging this encroaching left-wing censorship movement.
People are offended when their beliefs are challenged, as they always have been. This is the same emotional hysteria that led to the crusades.
It is the same mentality that invaded the world during the red scare.
It is no different, finally, than any civil war, brutality and a desire to destroy, absolutely, another way of thinking.
It is no different–truly–a no different way of thinking than any of the sides fighting for their version of absolute truth. In the past, the only balm there really was for such rage were not notions of equality, not political doctrine outlawing certain ideas. It was not war, not rationality, there was no way to get around the multi-sided rage attacking and destroying itself and everything any of the sides stand for. It has always been ideological genocide. Except . . . except . . .
There was one way around all this rage and hatred. One way to diminish the value of any sort of radical viewpoint, of puncturing the air out of such fundamentalist outrage.
It was comedy.
Making fun of something. Plucking out hypocrisy as one radical side attempts to overthrow the other. If they could no longer be taken seriously, if someone brave enough to attack the ridiculousness of absolutism were to emerge, there you have your modern saint. I will remain the non-believing Jew that I am, with friends in the trans community (something these individuals laugh at itself, as though all people live in the same community), and I will proclaim Dave Chappelle an important voice speaking of today. Remember, he did this:
"Frontline" - Clayton Bigsby Pt. 1 - Uncensored - Chappelle's Show | Comedy Central US
Meet Clayton Bigsby, a black white supremacist.
"Frontline" - Clayton Bigsby Pt. 2 - Uncensored - Chappelle's Show | Comedy Central US
When Clayton Bigsby ventures into the world, he's in for a shock.
Sometimes laughing at serious issues is the only way to make the stain spreading on a civilization taking itself too seriously dry up and disappear.