Monday, April 26, 2010

Leave the Adjective Out

The joke itself is pretty innocuous as jokes go. And it would be just as funny (ok, it's not really that funny anyway) without using the word Jewish.

But it comes from Obama's National Security Advisor James Jones, known to be no friend of Jews or Israel, as opening remarks in a speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Of course the Administration scrubbed the remarks from the official transcript. . .

Do you think he would have told this joke and used a Muslim merchant instead? Or had the merchant been black?

Pastorius cutting in:

Roger Simon comments,

The National Security Adviser’s tasteless sense of humor makes him seem like a complete yahoo – and one who is hostile to Jews to a degree he probably doesn’t even realize himself. And all this in the midst of the Obama Administration’s heavy-handed muscling of Israel in an attempt to reignite Middle East negotiations. And in front of the Washington Institute For Near East Policy, no less.

This must be another bad day of clean-up for Messrs. Emanuel and Axelrod. Or maybe they are too reified even to be insulted anymore. But imagine a similar joke being told about just about any racial and/or religious group by a National Security Adviser. There would be consternation in the White House.

So what about our President? He sees fit to bring people together over beer for a minor racial dispute (if there was one) between a cop and college professor. This is a key member of his administration involved in crucial foreign policy. What will the President’s reaction be? Or won’t there be any?
Personally, I say the joke is not funny because it has no context. There are no Jews in Afghanistan. Well, there is one, I believe.

If the joke took place in New York, with a Queens-based Jewish merchant selling a country bumpkin a tie so he could go to Manhattan, that would be another story. At least, then, there would be some context.

But, being that there is only one Jew in Afghanistan (if, indeed, he is still alive), the joke reads a bit like telling a joke about a Jewish merchant selling underwear to Jews before they get on the trains to Auschwitz.

Point being, why would there be a Jewish merchant at the train station to Auschwitz?

Furthermore, one has to wonder if the lack of context means that, de facto, the joke is outight anti-Semitic. For, if Jones sees Jewish merchants pushing their wares ("ruthlessly"?) in places where Jews don't even exist as a culture, one has to wonder if perhaps he thinks there are Jews hiding behind every corner in the world, just waiting to take over the economy and convert us all into Neocons?


Pastorius said...

Not that funny.

Nor that relevant to anything.

I don't get the joke in the sense that it has no context.

Are they having a problem with greedy Jewish merchants in Afghanistan these days?

Maybe there's something going on there that I don't know about.

But generally, humor is only funny if it is based upon something in the real world.

For instance, that joke would be much funnier if it was a Jewish guy selling a southern yokel a tie in Queens, so he can go into his bro-in-laws restaurant in Manhattan.

That still would not be that funny, but at least it would have some context.

Brooke said...

He really thinks this is true? Or funny?

What an asshole.

And if it was "OK", why scrub the comment?

Rachel said...

Well...I'm Jewish, and I thought it was funny. I thought it made the Taliban look stupid, and us smart. But then, I have a weird sense of humor.

Frankly, I don't care about jokes. I care about policies. I find the Obama administrations policies to be anti-Israel, and that I have a definite problem with. I'm also paranoid enough to wonder if, in an administration that is so hypersensitive about racism and all the other isms, if such a joke being told so publicly was meant to send a message. Because anyone who hasn't lived in a cave for the last 20 years knows you don't make ethnic jokes or do anything any "oppressed" groups could possibly be offended by, in a public setting like that.