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Dave Chappelle's Saturday Night Live monologue criticized by ADL, others

Dave Chappelle's 15-minute Saturday Night Live monologue about Kanye West and Kyrie Irving perpetuates harmful antisemitic tropes, argues the ADL

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Dave Chappelle SNL monologue criticized by ADL
Dave Chappelle on Saturday Night Live
Screenshot: NBC/YouTube

How unsurprising it is to wake up and find that Dave Chappelle’s Saturday Night Live appearance is being criticized for his controversial statements. Some have surely been waiting in vindictive anticipation for what the “woke mob” has to complain about this time; others may be weary that he has chosen a new subject to philosophize about (dropping his previous favorite target, transgender people). What unites us all is that no one can be shocked to see the comedian courting controversy.

Deciding to invite back a host who has been condemned for anti-transgender sentiments was a statement on the part of Lorne Michaels and Saturday Night Live, and the venerated program decided to go all-in on its support for Chappelle by allowing him a lengthy 15-minute monologue. (A segment which, for the record, this site called “the best and worst” moment of the night.) Chappelle covered a lot of ground in those 15 minutes, but perhaps most notably he discussed the recent antisemitic behavior of figures like Kyrie Irving and his friend Kanye West. Among other things, Chappelle joked that “it’s not a crazy thing to think” that Jewish people control Hollywood, “But it’s a crazy thing to say out loud in a climate like this.”

“A climate like this,” to be clear, is one in which there is a precipitous rise in antisemitism, in America and beyond, so it is a cause for concern that Chappelle would use an institutional platform to reinforce antisemitic tropes. (He stated that Jewish people don’t “run the place,” yet also claimed Ye “broke showbusiness rules” by identifying Jewish people as controlling Hollywood, which is “a coincidence and you should never talk about it,” he said facetiously to the laughter of the crowd.)

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Chappelle’s remarks were criticized and condemned by both Jewish and non-Jewish audience members alike. Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted, “We shouldn’t expect @DaveChappelle to serve as society’s moral compass, but disturbing to see @nbcsnl not just normalize but popularize #antisemitism. Why are Jewish sensitivities denied or diminished at almost every turn? Why does our trauma trigger applause?”

While Chappelle’s comments certainly do not share the overt admiration for Adolf Hitler that Ye allegedly holds, his monologue raised alarm bells for many given the pervasiveness of antisemitism. Chappelle has been resistant to criticism before, so it seems unlikely that he will respond differently to this wave of critics. As for Saturday Night Live—which has welcomed a few antisemitic conspiracy theory peddlers in recent years—it seems to be business as usual.