Did Barack Obama’s National Security Adviser, James Jones, expose some latent anti-Semitism by telling a joke at a Washington Institute For Near East Policy dinner? Or did he merely expose himself as someone who should avoid telling jokes at all in public? Breitbart TV and Yid with Lid argue the former:
YWL wants to put this in a larger context:
Was the Joke Anti-Semitic? Well, the White House must have thought so. The White House transcript sent to reporters after the event conveniently began a couple of minutes into the speech. The video of the event posted on the Washington Institute Web site started right after the Joke, you can even hear the end of the laughter.
Its interesting that the same President that see racism in the legitimate actions of the Cambridge Police and the State of Arizona, hides the anti-Semitic prose of its National Security Adviser.
I’d tend to disagree about intent. The joke itself makes fun of the “Taliban militant” more than the Jewish shopkeepers, and like many jokes, tends to play on the stereotypes of everyone in the joke. The classic “A priest, a minister, and a rabbi” jokes use stereotypes about everyone. In fact, one would be hard pressed to tell a joke about anyone or anything without some sense of exaggeration or generalization — which is what humor allows us to do. It goes without saying, though, that these kind of jokes work better as self-effacing humor told by those on the inside. A Jewish comedian would have gotten better laughs.
However, in this case, Jones shot himself in the foot with his delivery. Not only did he painfully parse through what should have been a quick joke, but Jones has a particular bias in his political correctness. He carefully uses “Taliban militant” instead of “Muslim terrorist” or just “Muslim,” which would make more sense for this joke than setting it in Afghanistan, where Jewish shopkeepers are, needless to say, rare. It makes a lot more sense as a joke about Hamas or Hezbollah in Israel. Why such sensitivity towards Muslims but not toward Jews? That’s a fair question, and it makes the allegation from YWL and Breitbart more credible.
The biggest takeaway here is that Jones shouldn’t tell jokes from the stage, or anywhere else. Maybe he’s been consulting with Comedy Central execs.
What’s your opinion on this? Take the poll:
Update: Be sure to read Scott Johnson and John Hinderaker at Power Line for their take on this. They make a good point about venue and context — and given the Obama administration’s rough treatment of Israel these days, Jones would have been well advised to stick to policy. And The Anchoress analyzes this at length in a post well worth reading.