Sacha Baron Cohen, a comedian from the United Kingdom, developed some fascinating characters as part of his comedic routine. One of them was Borat, a tall, awkward man who hailed from Kazakhstan.
Cohen used Borat as a tool on unsuspecting Americans to elicit responses which may be funny or frightful in his movie, “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.” Cohen counter-balanced Borat’s large 6’3″ frame with a friendly, simple and naïve demeanor, such that ordinary people responded to him in a more open manner than they would have for another large adult male stranger. Once within their sphere of hospitality, he engaged people in various outrageous actions. Cohen captured those bizarre interactions for the public to witness.
Borat was introduced as a foreigner, unfamiliar with the social norms of the USA. As people interacted with him, they quickly saw evidence of his primitive, racist, homophobic, misogynistic and anti-Semitic side. For example, when he attended a dinner party in the South, his lack of etiquette was so extreme he did not know how to use the bathroom. As the American hosts viewed themselves as extremely enlightened, they excused his outrageous behavior. The comedy of Baron Cohen/Borat was specifically about revealing people in such awkward and “dark” moments.
“Throw the Jew down the Well“
Another scene from the movie placed Borat in a cowboy bar in Tucson, Arizona. Borat was invited to sing a song from his home country to the crowd. The audience of men and women were at first unsure of this foreigner in a cowboy hat, as he started his song “In my Country there is a Problem.” It was clear from the first verse that Borat could not really sing, play the guitar or rhyme. But the crowd wanted to be hospitable and welcomed this stranger who was trying to fit in.
By the second verse, the song became rabidly anti-Semitic. Jews were blamed for taking everyone’s money and causing problems in his country. Imagery of Jews being wild animals with claws, gnashing teeth and horns were sung aloud, and the crowd joined in louder with each verse. The women – much more than the men – loudly clapped and sung along to the anti-Semitic verses with free abandon. One would imagine a scene from the Hofbrahaus in Munich 1920 more than Tucson 2006.
Sacha Baron Cohen is himself a Jew who is likely not an anti-Semite nor a racist nor a homophobe. He used the Borat character to force people to confront their own biases in unconventional ways. His use of a big fish-out-of-water persona made people want to embrace this gentle giant. The American-way of hospitality placed people in a situation where they were closely engaged with little room to maneuver. They were left with a choice of either being astonished and sickened (as were the southerners at the dinner party) or engaged, as were the anti-Semites in the Tucson cowboy bar. However, the Southerners took the effort to correct Borat, while the cowboys embraced his foul behavior and language.
The New York Times embrace of the Primitive
The New York Times has long looked on the Arab world with sympathetic eyes. Whether in advocacy for Arabs in urging the Obama administration to welcome thousands of Arab refugees, and pushing for building of a mosque at ground zero, or in ignoring Arab crimes through the use of double standards for people from a “primitive” culture, the NYT embraced the Arab world.
Like Borat, Arabs are from a different culture and unfamiliar with America’s progressive ways. As enlightened people, the writers for the Times have sought to engage and embrace these people. For example, Saudi Arabia is rarely called out as one of the most repressive regime in the world which decapitates minors in the streets; it is just an American ally.
No where is the treatment more apparent than in the warmth shown to the acting President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas. The soft-faced nearly 80 year old man is repeatedly described as a “moderate,” who seeks “non-violent” means to achieve “independence” for Palestinian Arabs. In the Times desire to see Abbas succeed, they turned deaf to his various statements and actions:
- Abbas’s inability to govern the Palestinian Authority territories is never blamed on his ineffectual leadership.
- The Times rarely mentions that Abbas is so unpopular among Palestinians that he would have lost any election since 2007 according to every poll (if he ever had the ability to have an election).
- Abbas’s phd paper on Holocaust denial is almost never discussed. When it is, the Times makes an effort to say that he now respects the history of the Holocaust, even though he explicitly said the opposite
- When polls show that the Palestinians are the most anti-Semitic people on the planet, the Times just brushed over the fact as “not particularly surprising“
- The Hamas Charter call for the destruction of Israel and death of Jews is rarely mentioned, and Hamas is almost never labeled a terrorist group
- Palestinians engaged in the most honor killings per capita is ignored and blame assigned to Israel
- Abbas’s calls to “defend al Aqsa by all means possible” is never described as an incitement to violence
The Times opted to not take a constructive approach like the Southern lady who taught Borat how to use the bathroom. It never sought to educate its readers about the misstatements and outright lies of the Palestinian Arabs. Instead, the Times just ignored that Abbas or the Palestinians were incompetent or said and did anything wrong.
However, on October 8, 2015, the Times decided to move past being deaf and joined the Palestinians’ anti-Semitic chants.
“Throw the Jew from the Temple Mount“
In an article entitled “Historical Certainty Proves Elusive at Jerusalem’s Holiest Place” Rick Gladstone wrote that there is little evidence that Jewish Temples existed on the Temple Mount.
New York Times article Refuting the Existence of the Jewish Temples
October 8, 2015
As if echoing the Palestinian Arab and Jordanian Arab narrative that Jews have no history in Israel or Jerusalem, that they are trying to “Judaize” the city and “falsify history,” the Times wrote a piece that completely misrepresented archaeological findings. Indeed, the only religion that has archaeological proof of being on the Temple Mount is Judaism (there are no structures to show where Jesus walked or Mohammed’s night journey).
The Times’ echoed the calls of anti-Semites who seek to deny Jews of their history and basic rights. The Times effectively moved from the back of the Tucson cowboy bar to the front row singing and clapping along with Abbas:
“Throw the Jew from the Temple Mount
so my country can be free!
You must grab him by his horns
and we will have a big party!”
Now that the Times has more openly embraced its anti-Semitic Borat persona, perhaps we will soon see articles that Jews are really from Khazar and have no connection to the bible at all.
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