In an appearance on the Late Show With Stephen Colbert Tuesday night, Stewart came to Chappelle’s defense, saying that he doesn’t believe “censorship and penalties are the way to end antisemitism.”
“Everybody calls me like, ‘You see Dave on “SNL”?’ And I say yes, we’re very good friends. I always watch and send nice texts,” Stewart began. “‘He normalized antisemitism with the monologue.’ I don’t know if you’ve been on comment sections on most news articles, but it’s pretty normal. It’s incredibly normal. But the one thing I will say is I don’t believe that censorship and penalties are the way to end antisemitism or to gain understanding. I don’t believe in that. It’s the wrong way for us to approach it.”
Over the weekend, Chappelle opened his SNL monologue by touching on the recent controversies surrounding Kanye West and Kyrie Irving.
“Kanye got in so much trouble Kyrie got in trouble,” Chappelle said. “Kyrie Irving posted a link of to a movie he seen on Amazon. No caption on the post or nothing like that, but apparently this movie had Anti-Semitic tropes...and the NBA told him he should apologize and he was slow to apologize. The list of demands to get back into their good graces got longer and longer and this is where I draw the line. I know the Jewish people have been through terrible things all over the world, but you can’t blame that on Black Americans.”
As far as Stewart is concerned, Chappelle’s monologue was “constructive.”
“I’m called antisemitic because I’m against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians,” Stewart told Colbert. “I’m called other things from other people based on other opinions that I have, but those shut down debate… Whether it be comedy or discussion or anything else, if we don’t have the wherewithal to meet each other with what’s reality then how do we move forward? If we all just shut it down, then we retreat to our little corners of misinformation and it metastasizes. The whole point of all this is to not let it metastasize and to get it out in the air and talk about it.”
The criticism was swift after Chappelle’s monologue.
“We shouldn’t expect Dave Chappelle to serve as society’s moral compass, but disturbing to see NBC not just normalize but popularize anti-Semitism,” Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted. “Why are Jewish sensitivities denied or diminished at almost every turn? Why does our trauma trigger applause?”
Watch Jon Stewart’s full appearance on Colbert up top.