Last week Charles Krauthammer published an article about Sacha Baron Cohen's movie "Borat." Krauthammer argued that if Baron Cohen was, according to his out-of-character interview in Rolling Stone, trying to using Borat's anti-Semitism as a "tool'' to expose it in others, then he was looking for anti-Semitism in the wrong country. Rather than coming to America to out everyday Christians of being anti-Semitic, Baron Cohen (Krauthammer explains) should have stayed home in Europe.
In the Rolling Stone interview, Baron Cohen explains that his Arizona bar stunt where, as Borat, he gets the entire Country/Western bar to passionately sing along with his "Throw the Jew Down the Well," revealed "indifference'' to anti-Semitism. And that, he maintains, was the path to the Holocaust. Krauthammer takes great exception to this comment.
To Krauthammer there really is no anti-Semitism problem here in America. He writes: "This is all quite crazy. America is the most welcoming, religiously tolerant, philo-Semitic country in the world. No nation since Cyrus the Great's Persia has done more for the Jews. And its reward is to be exposed as latently anti-Semitic by an itinerant Jew looking for laughs and, he solemnly assures us, for the path to the Holocaust?"
He continues: "It is very hard to be a Jew today, particularly in Baron Cohen's Europe, where Jew-baiting is once again becoming acceptable."
Well, take a look at Mel Gibson. Take a look at Michael Richards (who in addition to his racist tirade allegedly make anti-Semitic comments in a stand-up act as well). And now, take a look at morning radio show host Don Imus who on his radio program yesterday called "Jewish Management" at CBS "Money Grubbing."
Krauthammer writes: "Harry Truman used to tell derisive Jewish jokes. Richard Nixon said nasty things about Jews in government and elsewhere. Who cares? Truman and Nixon were the two greatest friends of the Jews..." Well, he can make excuses for anti-Semites all he wants but the fact remains that anti-Semitism is on the rise in our country. I'm sure the ADL is busy preparing their response to the Don Imus tirade, but Krauthammer making it seem that anti-Semitism isn't a problem here in America is not going to help.
This Shabbat, I will speak about the Borat movie and Sacha Baron Cohen's deceptive approach to revealing anti-Semitism in America. Is it positive or negative? Is it funny or sad? Is it fair? Is it telling? And perhaps the most important question: Is it dangerous?