What happens when a celebrity makes inappropriate/bigoted comments about a minority group? Well, it depends: which group are we are talking about?
Popular podcaster and American television personality Adam Carolla publicly joked about Jews being burned to death in the Holocaust twice in 2013 (once in front of a live audience) and delivered an anti-Semitic rant accusing Jews of controlling industries and holding other groups down.
And yet no one in the mainstream media or blogosphere has reported on Carolla’s vile comments. I wrote a blog post for The Times of Israel and tried to interest major media outlets – including The Huffington Post, USA Today, The New York Times, CNN, Fox News (Carolla has appeared many times on The O’Reilly Factor), etc., but no one has printed a word.
Maybe it’s because Carolla isn’t a big enough star to draw attention?
That’s clearly not the case, because Carolla’s Wikipedia page has an entire section devoted to controversies. In 2003, Carolla caused an uproar by claiming that Hawaiians are “dumb” and “inbred.” More controversy followed in 2010, when Carolla made bigoted statements about Filipinos.
Then in 2012, Carolla started a national conversation in America merely by claiming that he thinks women aren’t funny.
So, the lack of media attention clearly isn’t related to Carolla’s celebrity status. We know that other celebrities and comics have drawn huge backlashes for offensive comments. A racist rant by Michael Richards went viral, Daniel Tosh got in serious trouble for a joke about rape and Tracy Morgan was heavily scrutinized after joking about stabbing a hypothetical gay son.
Why is Carolla receiving a pass for his offensive comments about Jews? In an article for Slate, J. Bryan Lowder, a Slate assistant editor, made a telling comment while examining whether Jared Leto and Michael Douglas were insensitive towards the LGBT community during the Golden Globes ceremony.
He wrote, “Moreover, it cannot be lost on (the actors) that some significant percentage of the recognition these films—and by extension, they—are enjoying is due to the accrual of liberal cred, queer people being the current favored minority of the left.”
I agree with Lowder that the media and blogosphere do not treat all minority groups equally. Derogatory comments by celebrities about homosexuals or African-Americans, for example, are pretty much guaranteed to create a firestorm in America.
I am not arguing that we should pit minority groups against each other. Rather, bigoted comments against any/all groups should be reported and exposed. When you look at Carolla’s history and the reaction his offensive comments have garnered in the media, it seems that stereotypical and offensive comments about Jews are much less interesting to the mainstream media and blogosphere than equivalent (or even lesser) comments about other groups.
And here’s where the Jewish community (of which I’m a member) has to step up and take some responsibility. After I wrote about Carolla’s comments, I contacted both the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center. I also sent news tips to several Jewish newspapers and other related sites. None of them reported on Carolla’s views.
For contrast, after Carolla offended Hawaiians, the outcry led to Hawaiian affiliate KPOI dropping his show. Filipinos united and got Carolla to apologize, and many famous (and funny) women rebutted Carolla after he accused an entire gender of not being funny.
If women can take on Carolla for saying they aren’t funny, I think the Jewish community can and should take action to expose a celebrity who laughs about the burning of Jewish flesh and perpetuates the stereotype that Jews control industries.
Although Jews in America are relatively secure, there is still plenty of anti-Semitism around the world, unfortunately, and the Jewish community can’t afford to become complacent.
Of course, it would help if the mainstream media and blogosphere would show the same level of interest in anti-Semitic comments/incidents as it does when bigoted comments are made against other groups…