My wife and I have a good friend named Joseph Rocha who’s a very talented comedian. He has an interesting bit on anti-Semitism and bigotry in general that goes like this:
Jews are cheap and greedy; all they care about is money—one of the oldest stereotypes I know. Let’s say for my argument that it’s true. Jews are obsessed with money. Know who that reminds me of?
Why are we giving them grief for something we all do?
ALL OF US.
We don’t even have an ethnicity we blame generosity on.
Those freakin’ Samoans. Always tipping over 45 percent! Damn skirt-wearing islanders!
You take the cheapest Jew you got, and I will raise you my Uncle Manny in San Diego. No one is cheaper than that guy.
Joseph has a good point, methinks. He’s suggesting not only that stereotypes are idiotic, but also that they oftentimes are a strategy to attack other ethnicities for traits we all share … perhaps as a way to circumvent guilt or culpability in ourselves. Is enjoying the benefits of money something to feel guilty about? Perhaps to people who may feel such sentiments are “beneath” them. But those same individuals who wouldn’t lower themselves to caring about financial matters still have to pay the bills, still have to earn more than they spend. It’s a rare person who’s so free of earthly desires that he or she has the right to scold others for engaging in them.
Prejudice is an easily attained means to an end. It enables people to feel better about themselves by calling out the supposedly inferior characteristics of others. Yet it’s never entirely satisfying. It doesn’t address the real, internal issues affecting the individual perpetuating such hatred—the issues that are making the person unhappy enough to generalize about a population. And not everyone is willing to take on the challenge of self-examination, which entails the prospect of discovering things about himself or herself that one may not like. It’s a lot simpler to vent at someone else. It’s a lot less frightening to blame everybody but yourself.
Frankly, I’m a big fan of money, and though I don’t have a lot of it, I’m pleased at the opportunities it offers. No, it’s not perfect, but neither is living in a Star Trek-type universe that’s devoid of hard currency. (I’ll tell you one thing: If the market for Romulan ale were regulated properly, there would be a heckuva lot fewer problems on the planets that demand them than there are, uh, “now.”) The fact is, we all live in a society that hinges on the vicissitudes of finance, and we’re all in the same boat. We might as well treat each other as best we can. And we’d best put stereotypes behind us, left in the detritus of the past, in an effort to stride forward with conviction and understanding.
I’m going to run with Joseph Rocha on this one; he has quite a few valuable things to say. More often than not, comedy can be a powerful tool when it comes to identifying and refuting the most unsavory human qualities. In the case of his joke above, the truth is highly apparent.
Just don’t ask me to tip over 45 percent. You’ve got to draw the line somewhere, right?
Special thanks to Joseph Rocha for sharing his comedic expertise.