TNR Like to Make Sex Crime?

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Have the rugged insurgents of the New Republic thrown Marty Peretz down the well? No way could he have approved this editorial defending Sacha Baron Cohen's "Borat" against the slanders of—I'm quoting TNR, remember—a "dirty Jew."

[The Anti-Defamation League] is still fretting about Cohen's forthcoming film, Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan. The reason? The ADL, according to a statement it released last week, is "concerned … that the audience may not always be sophisticated enough to get the joke."

The Kazakh Embassy in Washington has already denounced the forthcoming Borat film, and a foreign ministry spokesman has said that Nazarbayev's government will do everything in its considerable power to stop it from playing in Kazakhstan. Indeed, there were even reports–later denied–that Nazarbayev planned to ask President Bush to do something about Borat during their meeting at the White House last week.

All of which has only served to illustrate the true character of Nazarbayev. Long accustomed to ruling his country with relative impunity–earlier this year, the State Department rated his government's human rights record as "poor," citing its encroachments on political rights, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion–Nazarbayev refuses to tolerate even a fictional character like Borat. And, in that refusal, Cohen has revealed Nazarbayev's intolerance in a way that no State Department report ever will. Here's hoping the ADL's plea to keep audiences away from Borat's film works as well as it did for The Passion of the Christ.

Here's a reason why TNR still rules—it's such a predictable fount of outrage against any perceieved anti-Semitism (like, say, not thinking that unconditional support of Israel is the best idea since Sam Phillips signed Elvis). But the point the editors are making isn't really counterintuitive. The "Borat" character is such a moron that he only gets real anti-Semites to agree with him, and to expose themselves in the process. The classic example (although it might be outdrawn by something from the new movie) is his song "In My Country There Is Problem," which starts out funny and gets creepier and creepier as an audience, their necks five shades redder than a fire truck, sing along with the vicious Jew-bashing. It's such a good expose of bigotry that the pro-Israel website inhonor.net dubbed a copy and uploaded it to YouTube.

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  1. Again, I’ve got to ask, about the singalong in particular: Is Borat really exposing bigotry or just showinng how far polite people will indulge (what they think is) an obvious moron?

  2. I hate it when some of the more viruently pro-Israel compare Hamas and Ahmadenijad to the Nazis and say it’s 1938 all over again. It’s totally coincidental that both groups don’t like the Jews. Hitler didn’t like the Jews just because of their Judaism, but the Islamists of the world don’t like them because of their being in Israel. If a state full of Mexicans instead of Jews was set up where Israel is, the Islamists’ rhetoric would be anti-Mexican rather than anti-semitic. The Islamists are no more anti-semitic than they are anti any other non-Muslim religion. They are however anti the occupation of the land that they view as Muslim territory by non-Muslims. It just happens to be that these perceived occupiers are Jewish.

  3. Charles,

    I wonder that myself. Why do we assume that the absurdity we find funny isn’t taken the same way by the audience? Or do people really think these ‘rednecks’ want to throw Jews in a well?

  4. I’m calling bullshit on that video. It’s not difficult to get a room full of actors. First of all, the guitar music is way out of whack with his had movements. Second of all, rednecks don?t hate jews, they are too bust hating people closer to home. Ali G is an entertainer, it is not his job to tell the truth, it is our job not to believe it.

  5. but the Islamists of the world don’t like them because of their being in Israel. If a state full of Mexicans instead of Jews was set up where Israel is, the Islamists’ rhetoric would be anti-Mexican rather than anti-semitic. The Islamists are no more anti-semitic than they are anti any other non-Muslim religion. They are however anti the occupation of the land that they view as Muslim territory by non-Muslims. It just happens to be that these perceived occupiers are Jewish.

    OK, so may they are not “anti-Jewish”, they are “anti-anything-that-is-not-muslim”. Either way it is a textbook example of bigotry.

    For example, Israel is not the only country to occupy Palistine. Palistine is also occupied by Jordon, Lebonon, and Syria. If this was some people’s movement against foreign aggressors, Palastinians would be attack Syria, Jordan, and Lebonon. They only attack Jews, because Jews are Jewish, not because they are occupying their land.

    If Mexicans were muslim, they could take over Israel, and there wouldn’t be the same anomisty towards them. There would only be anomosity because they are Catholic.

  6. The line Throw the Jew down the well is so funny. If Joseph hadn’t been thrown down the well, he wouldn’t have become a savior to his people.

    Only a Jew (or one who knows and loves them) could have written that song.

  7. I can’t believe people think that video is faked.

    Not everyone is singing along, quite a few have that “did he just say that” face going on. But there are some fairly loud participants.

  8. Again, I’ve got to ask, about the singalong in particular: Is Borat really exposing bigotry or just showinng how far polite people will indulge (what they think is) an obvious moron?

    Stevo think about this. Stevo think this Charles Oliver he is right. Most Americans easygoing and nonconfrontational. They tolerate intolerance of others, as long as no one actually get hurt and no representatives of target group are around to be offended. Americans especially likely to cut the slack for foreigner from backward country, whom they presume not to know any better.

    Wait. Maybe is bigotry here, but is not anti-Semitism. Is “bigotry of soft expectations” toward people of 2nd/3rd World countries. Is nice, tolerant, well-intended bigotry maybe.

  9. Um, there’s someone else playing a guitar just off stage. That doesn’t mean it’s staged or not…I personally don’t think it is. I don’t know where that is in America, but there are open mic kinda places all over, and I could see there being actual bigots, some people playing along maybe, some being polite, etc, in the “crowd”. Does every single person in the audience have to have the same reaction?

    And it’s not like it was a packed house. I think American Jews can rest easy and not worry about another holocaust…at least not in this country.

  10. The line Throw the Jew down the well is so funny. If Joseph hadn’t been thrown down the well, he wouldn’t have become a savior to his people.

    Yeah, but it was also a favorite pastime of Cossacks in Russia from the 1700s into the early 20th century. People who make references to throwing Jews into wells are usually talking about that, at least in my experience.

  11. Ali G is an entertainer, it is not his job to tell the truth, it is our job not to believe it.

    I don’t quite understand that statement. It’s our job not to believe the truth?

    Probably right. That would explain so much about America today.

    I’ve been watching Ali G for several years now. He’s so famous in Britain that no one there will fall for his stunts anymore.

    Is Borat really exposing bigotry or just showinng how far polite people will indulge (what they think is) an obvious moron?

    He’s exposing bigotry.

    (Strange notion of “politeness” you’ve got there.)

  12. (Strange notion of “politeness” you’ve got there.)

    No, it isn’t at all. What would you have done, got up and started yelling “FUCK YOU ASSHOLE!!!”. Stormed out in a hissie fit? Did it ever occur to you that not everyone in the world is such a sensitive, politically correct prick, and maybe they just though it wasn’t that big of a deal to make a fuss out of it?

    Seriously, why do people hate a bunch of rednecks for humoring a foriegn visiter, and at the same time people cut leftist intellectuals in the U.K. total slack when they institute discrimination policies of people of Israeli orgin? Did you go to the English embassy and protest that Jewish Israelis are not allowed to come to teach at Universities in England, or do you ignore that even more horrible act of racism?

    Obviously, this is an example of class hatred. Racist discrimination on a large scale is not only tolerated, but applauded when done by a bunch of upper-class leftist intellectuals… but those damn low-class beer-drinking poor illiterate declasse red necks, those are monsters!

    Someone should tell those damn rednecks to be more bourgeois!

  13. The earlier reports about this said that most people in the bar were not cool with the song and it was the one point in the whole movie where Borat was in a position where he was about to get his ass kicked?

  14. i can’t wait to see this movie.

  15. It also wouldn’t surprise me if some of the people singing the loudest thought the whole thing was a joke. I think if I heard a song with lyrics that ridiculous, I would at least consider that it might be a joke, and therefore funny to sing along with.

    To think otherwise, I’d have to believe that all rednecks are stupid.

  16. Obviously, this is an example of class hatred.

    He’s done the same sort of thing with realtors, members of clubs similar to the Lions Club, wine connoisseurs…

    As Ali G, he’s made fun of “intellectuals”, politicians, religious types…

    As Bruno, he’s had a few laughs at the expense of fashionistas, club owners…

    He’s an equal-opportunity mickey-taker.

    it was the one point in the whole movie where Borat was in a position where he was about to get his ass kicked?

    I don’t know what’s in the movie, but in the episode shown on (British) tv last week, he almost got his “ass kicked” by a southern gentleman who took umbrage at having his sexuality questioned.

    Did it ever occur to you that not everyone in the world is such a sensitive, politically correct prick, and maybe they just though it wasn’t that big of a deal to make a fuss out of it?

    How polite do you suppose they’d have been if he’d started singing “Throw the trailer trash down the well”?

  17. Raymond,

    “he’s exposing bigotry”

    You know this, of course, because of your superhuman ability to read the minds of the audience members.

  18. “You know this, of course, because of your superhuman ability to read the minds of the audience members.”

    did you miss the singing along and stuff?

    watch the video.

  19. The bar is in Tucson.

  20. “Did it ever occur to you that not everyone in the world is such a sensitive, politically correct prick, and maybe they just though it wasn’t that big of a deal to make a fuss out of it?”

    Public opposition to opently anti-semitic statements = “Politically Correct.” OK. Hey, man, why can’t you just be cool? He’s just talking about Jews.

    “Seriously, why do people hate a bunch of rednecks for humoring a foriegn visiter, and at the same time people cut leftist intellectuals in the U.K. total slack when they institute discrimination policies of people of Israeli orgin?”

    The protests and sanctions you refer to apply to all professors who work at Israeli Universities, because of their relationship with the Israeli government. Orthodox Christian professors, Palestinian Arab Muslim professors, and Russian-Israeli professors included.

    Of course you know this, but acknowledging the difference between opposition to a government vs. anti-semitism would deny you one of your favorite lines of attack, so you play dumb.

    Slinging about charges of anti-semitism is the hawkishness of fools.

  21. The protests and sanctions you refer to apply to all professors who work at Israeli Universities, because of their relationship with the Israeli government. Orthodox Christian professors, Palestinian Arab Muslim professors, and Russian-Israeli professors included

    Check your facts, Joe. The boycott is ideologically selective: if you are an anti-occupation Jew and speak out against Israel, you are still welcome (cf. Ilan Pappe, Tanya Reinhart); if you are a Muslim Arab, that’s ok, too; anyone else who opposes Israeli policy likewise gets a free pass. It’s not where you work, it’s what you believe.

    Take a look at the speakers at this conference, organised by the leaders of the boycott movement in Ireland, and then tell me “all professors who work at Israeli universities” are subject to the boycott.
    http://www.tcd.ie/iiis/pages/events/palestine.php
    The only Jews acceptable to this crowd are the ones belonging to the vanishingly small contingent of Jewish anti-Zionists. Poke around http://www.ipsc.ie to get a flavour for how for this crowd uses the word “Zionist” to mean “Jewish Nazi” AND as a catch-all to describe any Jew who hasn’t ideologically innoculated/prostrated himself by proclaiming his anti-Zionism – which is to say these people regard 99.9% of Jews as no better than Nazis. So I’m afraid it’s you who is having trouble admitting the difference between mere “opposition” and anti-Semitism.

  22. If he had been singing throw the trailer trash down the well, the people would have still been singing along. One thing about poor white trash is that we are better at having a good laugh at ourselves than most.

    “Jew” is probably almost an abstract concept to these people. They know that Hitler killed the Jews and the US kicked his ass over it, they know Jesus was a jew but that was a long time ago.

    A better test would have been to sing “Shoot the Mexican” – that would have revealed real emotions because Mexican construction workers have probably gotten jobs that some of these guys could have had, some of these people probably work for Mexican supervisors, and they probably live in neighborhoods with high Mexican population. Singing “Shoot the Mexican” might have got the same reaction or Borat might have gotten his ass kicked.

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