America’s “call-out” culture has seemingly had a very easy time identifying racism, but a much more difficult time seeing anti-Semitism.
Consider a new potential cast member for Saturday Night Light, Shane Gillis, who was found to have made off-color comments in the past. He was terminated this week before his first day on the job and the media was clear that his racist jokes were the cause:
- “SNL fires new hire Shane Gillis after recent homophobic and racist slurs surface” read the headlines from Vox
- “Saturday Night Live Drops Shane Gillis After Backlash to Racist Remarks” was the headline for Slate
- “Comedian Shane Gillis will not be joining “Saturday Night Live” over racist and homophobic videos” was the feature of CBS News
- NPR ran with “Comedian Shane Gillis Fired From ‘Saturday Night Live’ For Racist Remarks“
- USAToday went with “‘SNL’ fires Shane Gillis over racist comments, four days after hiring him“
- The New York Times lead with “Shane Gillis, New ‘S.N.L.’ Cast Member, Used Racial Slur in Podcast“
The list goes on.
Every headline made it clear that Gillis made racist remarks. They were not “perceived as racist,” “allegedly racist” or people “claimed they were racist” or “objected to the comments.” For the racist jokes – meant for amusement, not malice – the media was definite in calling it out without condition.
But the same cannot be said of antisemitism.
The founders of the Women’s March repeatedly smeared Zionism and said that Jews who back the Jewish State are sinister. The female founders stated that they were proud of their association with the vocal anti-Semitic preacher Louis Farrakhan. No matter. In commenting about three of the four founders stepping down from their post this week because of their comments and associations, the media made their comments very conditional:
- The New York Post headline was “Women’s March cuts ties with Linda Sarsour, other leaders after anti-Semitism claims“
- Salon led with “Tamika Mallory and Linda Sarsour out at Women’s March following allegations of anti-Semitism“
- NBC News ran with “Three founding Women’s March leaders leaving board after anti-Semitism accusations“
- The Washington Post article was titled “Women’s March replaces three original leaders, after anti-Semitism accusations, with 16 board members“
For the media, the antisemitism was not so clear. The women were simply accused of antisemitism, but did not necessarily say anything antisemitic. Even while the intent of the women was to vilify, demonize and dehumanize, the media opted to bracket and condition the antisemitism, while doing nothing similar for Gillis’s racist jokes which were meant to entertain.
Even the most clearly vile and noxious antisemitism spewed from the mouth of the leader of the Nation of Islam, Louis Farrakhan, got a pass from the press.
- The Associated Press headline was “Farrakhan delivers insult while denying he’s anti-Semitic.” Why would the AP write that he delivered an “insult” and then leave readers of the headline with the orientation that he is not insanely racist and antisemitic?
- The Guardian headline was a bit more clear, but still gave the denial of antisemitism a lead, in the headline “Louis Farrakhan denies antisemitism – then refers to ‘Satanic Jews’“
- The Hill wrote “Farrakhan refers to ‘satanic Jews’ while denying anti-Semitism allegations“
Shane Gillis also denied that he’s a racist and was just trying to be funny, but his protest did not make it into the headlines.
When the anti-male and anti-White comments by New York Times Asian female columnist Sarah Jeong came to light including “White men are bullshit,” “#CancelWhitePeople,” “white people marking up the internet with their opinions like dogs pissing on fire hydrants” and “Oh man it’s kind of sick how much joy I get out of being cruel to old white men,” the Times pardoned her comments and let her remain on staff.
So we are left to question the disparity.
Is the source of the comment the differentiator? Are the racist comments from white men perceived as worse than those coming from women or minorities?
Consider a leading white male politician in the United Kingdom who has made antisemitic and anti-Israel comments as matter of ritual. The antisemitism in the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn has become so intense, that many Jews have left the party and the parliament itself. Still, the press conditioned the accusations against the Corbyn and the party:
- The BBC had an article titled “A guide to Labour Party anti-Semitism claims.” That same qualifying word – “claims” – offering it as a point of view rather than a point in fact.
- Reuters got a step closer to truth with “More than 60 British lords criticize Labour’s Corbyn over anti-Semitism,” but still left it as a charge, rather than fact.
- The Financial Times wrote “Labour insiders allege Corbyn team interfered in anti-Semitism inquiries“
- Politico went with full denial “Jeremy Corbyn: It’s ‘offensive’ to call me anti-Semitic“
- Time wrote “U.K. Labour Party Members Take Out Newspaper Advert Accusing Leader of ‘Allowing Antisemitism to Grow’“
This liberal white male was given the soft-touch by the media.
He was not alone.
When acting-President of the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas said that Jews were slaughtered in the Holocaust because of their behavior, and that Europeans have hated Jews for centuries because of their “function,” the press was tepid in labeling his outrageous statements as anti-Semitic.
- BBC wrote “Holocaust row: Abbas accused of anti-Semitism“
- The Washington Post article laid out simple facts “Palestinian president says Jewish behavior caused the Holocaust, sparking condemnation,” without calling the statement antisemitic.
- CNN headlined that “Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas accused of anti-Semitic speech“
- The Guardian covered the story as “Netanyahu accuses Palestinian president of antisemitism“
- While The New York Times ran with “Palestinian Leader Incites Uproar with Speech Condemned as Anti-Semitic.” Condemned by who? By Zionists? Why not just state clearly that IT WAS anti-Semitic?
The media is uniquely adept at clearly identifying and calling out racist speech while it contorts itself around antisemitism, noting that some people (you know who those pesky critters are, the media keeps telling you they’re racists) might possibly consider certain comments as problematic and allege antisemitism. Such manipulations makes room for the hatred and gives it air.
That action itself is antisemitic as well.
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