‘Penalizing Somebody For Having A Thought’: Jon Stewart Weighs In On Dave Chappelle Anti-Semitism Controversy

[Youtube Screenshot The Late Show With Stephen Colbert]

Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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Comedian Jon Stewart weighed in on fellow comedian Dave Chappelle’s “Saturday Night Live” monologue after the former “Chappelle’s Show” star came under fire for allegedly defending anti-Semitism.

Stewart joined “Late Night with Stephen Colbert” and discussed Chappelle’s performance, during which Chappelle appeared to defend Kanye West, legally known as Ye, and NBA star Kyrie Irving, both of whom have faced professional consequences after making anti-Semitic remarks.

During the monologue Saturday night, Chappelle joked that Ye was “not crazy at all” to think that Jews control the entertainment industry. “I’ve been to Hollywood,” Chappelle said. “And I don’t want y’all to get mad at me, I’m just telling you — this is just what I saw: It’s a lot of Jews. Like a lot.”

While it’s unclear whether Chappelle was defending Irving’s and Ye’s anti-Semitism, he did say it was unfair to blame Jewish suffering “on black Americans,” which was met with near silence from the audience.

Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said Chappelle’s monologue was “disturbing.”

“[D]isturbing to see @nbcsnl not just normalize but popularize #antisemitism. Why are Jewish sensitivities denied or diminished at almost every turn? Why does our trauma trigger applause?” Greenblatt tweeted.

Stewart said that, despite his friendship with Chappelle, he felt the monologue was inappropriate. “Everybody calls me like, ‘You see Dave on SNL?’ And I say, ‘Yes, we’re very good friends.’ I always watch and send nice texts,” Stewart said. “He normalized antisemitism with the monologue, I don’t know if you’ve been on comment sections on most news articles, but it’s pretty normal. It’s incredibly normal.”

“The one thing I will say is, I don’t believe that censorship and penalties are the way to end anti-Semitism or to gain understanding,” Stewart continued. “I don’t believe in that. It’s the wrong way for us to approach it.”

Stewart noted that he himself has been accused of anti-Semitism for criticizing Israel and defending Palestine and argued that such accusations “shut down debate.” (RELATED: Theater Bullied Into Canceling Chappelle Show)

“Whether it be comedy or discussion or anything else, if we don’t have the wherewithal to meet each other with what’s reality, then how do we move forward?” Stewart asked. “If we all just shut it down, then we retreat to our little corners of misinformation and it metastasizes.”

Stewart then shifted his focus to Irving, who was suspended for several games after sharing an anti-Semitic film.

“This is a grown-ass man. The idea that you would say to him, ‘We’re going to put you in a timeout. You have to sit in the corner and stare at the wall until you no longer believe that the Jews control the international banking system’ … We will never gain any kind of understanding with each other.”

“Penalizing somebody for having a thought — I don’t think is the way to change their minds or gain understanding.”