Chappelle’s SNL monologue a ‘teachable moment,’ Smith says


(NewsNation) — Comedian Dave Chappelle hosted “Saturday Night Live” this week and his monologue was criticized by some, including the CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, as antisemitic.

The comedian was discussing Ye, the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, and Kyrie Irving, who both faced financial repercussions after promoting antisemitic ideas. Ye had espoused that Jewish people were controlling Black people in Hollywood and said today’s music industry is “modern day slavery.” Irving tweeted a link to an antisemitic film and initially refused calls to apologize.

“I learned that there are two words you should never say in the English language, and those words are ‘The’ and ‘Jews,'” Chappelle joked during his SNL appearance Saturday. “I never heard someone do good after they did that.”

He also said there were “a lot of Jews” in Hollywood.

“But that doesn’t mean anything. There’s a lot of Black people in Ferguson, Missouri, but that doesn’t mean we run the place,” Chappelle said. “The illusion that the Jews run show business is not a crazy thing to think, but it is a crazy thing to say out loud in a climate like this.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the ADL, said Sunday on Twitter “it was disturbing” to see SNL “not just normalize but popularize antisemitism.”

Weighing in on Chappelle’s monologue, sports commentator Stephen A. Smith said Monday on “CUOMO” that it provided a teachable moment, whether you found it funny or offensive.

“What I peel from the comedic brilliance that Dave Chappelle articulated and disseminated (Saturday night) was the fact that whether you liked and thought it was brilliant what he said or whether you were offended by it … it’s a teachable moment for all of us to really inhale and comprehend and understand what’s offensive to a community,” Smith said. “If these things did not transpire, we wouldn’t be in a position where it’s a teachable moment because we’d have nothing to learn from it because people would be hiding what they felt … and we’d never learn anything.”

Smith has been outspoken about his criticism of Irving, who was suspended by the Brooklyn Nets for five games for his failure to “unequivocally say he has no antisemitic beliefs.” Irving has sat out seven straight games, though Smith, who was in favor of the suspension, said he anticipates Irving will return to the court following the team’s road trip to Sacramento and Portland.

As with other sports stars in the past, Smith said Irving has paid the price for his wrong and shouldn’t be held to different set of standards as it relates to punishment. Some have called for Irving to be released from the team.

“We’ve seen a lot of things transpire in the world of sports where people have made mistakes and they’ve ultimately been forgiven once they apologize, albeit reluctantly. If that’s the policy that’s been consistent as we look throughout the sports world, why should it be any different for Kyrie Irving?” Smith said. “I called upon everybody to show a level of compassion and forgiveness that’s consistent with what they’ve done for others in the past, and I stand by that.”

The discussion about Ye, Irving and Chappelle comes alongside one about “cancel culture,” wherein people lose sponsorships, employment or, in some cases, access to social media for comments deemed offensive or hateful. That kind of atmosphere, Smith says, is one that doesn’t allow people to learn the error of their ways.

“It’s the willingness to catch hold of somebody and say ‘this is an opportunity to cancel them’ as opposed to saying ‘you we’re wrong’ and then giving them an opportunity to go about the business of explaining themselves and correcting the error of their ways,” Smith said. “That’s the danger that’s going in our society right now because people are looking for an excuse to erase and eradicate other folks.”

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