Jon Stewart Is Standing Up In Defense Of Dave Chappelle

Jon Stewart says that censoring Dave Chappelle is not the way to combat anti-Semitism.

By Jonathan Klotz | Updated

During a Tuesday night appearance on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert, comedian and long-time Daily Show host Jon Stewart spoke out in defense of Dave Chappelle. As reported by Variety, in response to friends texting and telling Stewart that Chappelle normalized anti-Semitism, the Jewish comic stated “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.”

The event in question is Dave Chappelle’s recent Saturday Night Live monologue on November 12th, which was criticized by the Anti-Defamation League for boosting and supporting anti-Semitic sentiments, predominantly recent statements made by Kanye West. Jon Stewart, of Jewish descent himself, cited Chappelle saying “It shouldn’t be this hard to talk about things” as an honest statement that should advance the discourse. Stewart continued by explaining “I’m called antisemitic because I’m against Israel’s treatment of Palestinians. I’m called other things from other people based on other opinions that I have, but those shut down debate.”

dave chappelle
Dave Chappelle on SNL

Continuing with an explanation of his opinion, Jon Stewart went on to say that it is counter-productive to “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.” On his new Apple TV+ talk show The Problem with John Stewart, the comedian has been outspoken about his feelings regarding social media and the harm that the online discourse has on American culture.

Jon Stewart’s discussion with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday’s show went on to address two other controversial figures, Kyrie Irving and Kanye West. Similar to his defense of Chappelle, Stewart says that Kyrie is a grown-ass man and saying “you have to sit in the corner and stare at the wall until you no longer believe that the Jews control the international banking system” is counter-productive. The former Daily Show host says that is not the way to change minds. “Penalizing someone for having a thought” is not a productive way to gain understanding according to Stewart.

On Kanye West, Jon Stewart quoted the Grammy-winning artist as saying “Hurt people hurt people.” Stewart then discussed how the Black culture has been unfairly maligned by outside groups so viewing Kanye from a black perspective is the only way to understand where the artist is coming from. Without that understanding, then it is impossible to deal with Kanye’s public issues.

Jon Stewart and Dave Chappelle have been friends for years, costarring together in 1998’s stoner comedy Half-Baked. The pair performed events together during the COVID-19 pandemic. Stewart was in the audience for Chappelle’s show this past May when the outspoken comedian was attacked on stage. The Problem with Jon Stewart is currently airing its second season on AppleTV.