Is this a racist joke?

Jump to Last Post 1-16 of 16 discussions (33 posts)
  1. Arthur Fontes profile image85
    Arthur Fontesposted 9 years ago

    I am simply posting the video to open a discussion.

    What do you think of this?

    See how I am merely trying to start a conversation?

    Obama’s National Security Advisor Tells Joke Depicting Jews as Greedy Merchants


    1. Jeff Berndt profile image89
      Jeff Berndtposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I've heard the same joke before, long ago, without any mention of the race or religion or political affiliation of the people in question. It was hilarious at the time, making a joke out of the situation, and not any group or groups of people.

      I suspect the guy added in the Taliban warrior and the Jewish merchant (and his brother the restauranteur) in an effort to make the joke more topical.

      Deliberately racist? I don't think so.

      Anti-Semitic? Nope.

      Does it leave the guy open to people looking for any opportunity to bash the administration without actually talking about substantive issues?

      Obviously,  it does.

    2. Friendlyword profile image59
      Friendlywordposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Ok Arthur…Lets have a Friendly little conversation about this.

      Sammy Benoit wrote an article concerning the statement made by National Security Adviser General James Jones. In the article he included this statement by someone who saw the joke and the speech. He said the joke was wrong on a lot of levels.  I totally agree with that.  The General even thought it was wrong and later made an apology.

      That should have been the end of it.  The General made a bad joke to make the point that this Country has, and always will stand behind Israel. Right or Wrong , Regardless of who is in the White House.

      But could Benoit leave it at that?…Noooooooooooo!  He had to add this lie to make his article interesting:   “And the Jewish community is very nervous about the recent anti-Israel leanings of the Obama administration.”

      That crossed the line!
      You don’t bring too many people to your side when you intentionally play stupid and act like you don’t understand someone comments; just to make some point that is a total LIE.  Why is this tactic used so much by Right Wing Commentators, Writers, Politicians, and Clergy? You’re not stupid people…so you must think the rest of us are.

  2. livelonger profile image93
    livelongerposted 9 years ago

    Maybe against Talibanis?

    Certainly not against Jews.

  3. William R. Wilson profile image59
    William R. Wilsonposted 9 years ago

    I think it's stereotyping.  It might have been mildly in poor taste but it's not racist. 

    I'm curious about the audience too, when he told this joke.  Were there a lot of Israelis there?  Or was it a room full of Iranian government functionaries?  Context matters a lot with humor.

  4. lightning john profile image61
    lightning johnposted 9 years ago

    I think it's funny as hell!

  5. Shadesbreath profile image81
    Shadesbreathposted 9 years ago

    It's funny, but it does rely on a stereotype.  I think that it's not a "negative" stereo type, or at least it is a stereotype that has good and bad possibilities, so like William R. Wilson said, "Context matters."

    However, that said, thin-skin and hypersensitivity is the order of the day, and our schools are going to incredible lengths to teach kindergarten through graduate school students how to seek new and more nuanced ways to be offended.

    People must not be allowed to laugh at themselves. All things must be taken personally and deeply to heart so that, eventually, we will all be able to threaten cartoonists with death always for offenses against us.  Then we will be free of racism.

  6. lightning john profile image61
    lightning johnposted 9 years ago

    Very true!  Shades!  My mother is full blood Jew, and this joke is not offensive to me at all.  My other friends, and I that are from Jewish descent, laugh all the time about characteristics in our persons, that are just the way we are!

    1. Home Remodeling profile image59
      Home Remodelingposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      In our culture, the name inserted as the punch line determines if it is humor or hate.

  7. Arthur Fontes profile image85
    Arthur Fontesposted 9 years ago

    The White House released an official transcript for the event and, low and behold, the joke isn’t there. Why? Obama Administration officials refused to answer questions from ABC News.

    This joke was told at  the Washington Institute For Near East Policy

  8. tobey100 profile image59
    tobey100posted 9 years ago

    Rule of thumb:  If you have to ask it probably is.

    1. livelonger profile image93
      livelongerposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      He didn't have to ask. It's just another right-wing fabricated meme to tear down the President's administration, cut by cut. Because, you know, if you're not attacking the President, then you have to say what you stand for in concrete terms, and they've never quite been able to do that.

      1. Arthur Fontes profile image85
        Arthur Fontesposted 9 years agoin reply to this

        I stand for the rights of the individual irrelevant of the labels ascribed by society!

        I see you feel the forums are only here for subjects you care about?

        1. William R. Wilson profile image59
          William R. Wilsonposted 9 years agoin reply to this

          Where did he say that Arthur?

  9. Arthur Fontes profile image85
    Arthur Fontesposted 9 years ago


    "I think what we've had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well,'' Limbaugh said. "There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn't deserve. The defense carried this team."

    Was this statement racist?

    1. Shadesbreath profile image81
      Shadesbreathposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Depends whose listening to it.  Having done a lot of academic writing in my day, I could write arguments for and against its being racist or not-racist, with heaps of essays and other expert support on all angles.

      So in the end, it is what you want it to be based on how you see the world.

    2. William R. Wilson profile image59
      William R. Wilsonposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      Depends on the context.

      1. Arthur Fontes profile image85
        Arthur Fontesposted 9 years agoin reply to this

        This was the comment that caused Rush to resign from ESPN so I guess you could say it was at least inappropriate.

  10. Doug Hughes profile image60
    Doug Hughesposted 9 years ago

    From a long time ago, I remember an old guy who knew every Italian joke ever told, and he liked to tell the dirty ones - for the best laugh.  Inappropriate? Maybe.

    His nme was Louie Facelli and he owned the best Italian Restaurant in town.  So there was never any malice in any joke he told and that's the key to a joke being 'racist' or malicious the intent of the speaker to hurt or denigrate.

    We heve skins that are way too thin today - we have lost the ability to laugh at ourselves - and that's tragic.

    1. Shadesbreath profile image81
      Shadesbreathposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I think it is because, in an awesome twist of ironic fate, the fight for equality for everyone, the effort to make us all finally the same in the eyes of the law and as citizens, we have become hyper-aware of our differences (no matter how small).  The only people that get to laugh at "us" are those we give permission to.  Everyone else is "attacking us." 

      This is a default "defensive posture" that has everyone seeking reasons to be outraged and that completely ignores one's own ability to see the humor in that same exact "offensive thing" when with friends and people we trust.  If it's funny when your brother says it, why isn't funny when my brother says it?

      Answer: my brother is unfamiliar, and therefore it is assumed he intends malice.  We, as a nation, simply assume hostility from our neighbors these days.

      We don't trust each other.

  11. Arthur Fontes profile image85
    Arthur Fontesposted 9 years ago

    From Politico:

    Today, Jones apologized for the "off the cuff" joke, saying he wished he hadn't made it.

    “I wish that I had not made this off the cuff joke at the top of my remarks, and I apologize to anyone who was offended by it," Jones said in a statement. "It also distracted from the larger message I carried that day: that the United States commitment to Israel’s security is sacrosanct.”

  12. livelonger profile image93
    livelongerposted 9 years ago

    Was it really any different in the past?

    It's easier to infer malice when the person is making a joke only about other groups of people (or one group in particular), and never about him/herself.

    I personally love Lisa Lampanelli, an insult comic who uses a lot of humor that would sound incredibly offensive if taken out of the context of her entire body of work. But she makes fun of everyone, including Italians (she's Italian), so you understand that it's not meant to be serious.

    In the realm of politics, however, it's better to be bland than risk offending anyone (although...have any actual Jews complained about this guy's joke???)

    1. Arthur Fontes profile image85
      Arthur Fontesposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      As first noted by the Jewish newspaper The Forward, at an event last week at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy – a pro-Israel think tank – National Security Adviser Gen. James Jones (Ret.) told a joke about a “Jewish merchant” that didn’t sit well with everyone.

      While many in the largely Jewish audience laughed, others didn’t find it so funny, including Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.

      “It's inappropriate,” Foxman told ABC News. “it's stereotypic. Some people believe they need to start a speech with a joke; this was about the worst kind of joke the head of the National Security Council could have told.” … -jewi.html

      1. livelonger profile image93
        livelongerposted 9 years agoin reply to this

        Ugh, Foxman. If there ever were a man with screwed-up priorities, he would be it.

        He speaks on behalf of all Jews as much as Al Sharpton does for all black people.

  13. mega1 profile image76
    mega1posted 9 years ago

    I don't care about the joke - but I do wonder why when people have an agenda, a definite line they want to sell us on politics and religion especially, they don't just state their opinions in a straightforward manner.  I hate being manipulated by any side of any question into some little dead-end alley where I can be attacked.  yuck, Arthur, just yuck!

    1. Arthur Fontes profile image85
      Arthur Fontesposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I do not want to manipulate anyone.  If I have an agenda it is very simple....  I believe in the rights of the individual.

      My opinion of this joke was that in the situation in which it was told it was offensive and inappropriate.

      The joke was a stereotypical run on a group of people.  When told by someone who is paid to represent his country it becomes untolerable.

      1. JWestCattle profile image60
        JWestCattleposted 9 years agoin reply to this

        well said, and clearly someone in the Obama administration concurred and covered, or the joke would not have been edited out.  Fortunately, the transcript was not the only record.

  14. habee profile image92
    habeeposted 9 years ago

    The joke depicts the Jewish merchant as a greedy moneychanger, much the way Jews have been depicted throughout history, even by Shakespeare. It's definitely a stereotype, and it's not PC. Of course, I think we're all getting too carried away about making everything PC. I don't get bent out of shape over jokes. Like when Obama joked about Special Olympics - I don't think he was trying to be mean.

    1. livelonger profile image93
      livelongerposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I don't see it that way.

      I see it as a canny Jew screwing one over on a bigot.

      It would be a different joke entirely if the victim weren't someone that the Jew knew was an anti-Semite.

      1. Friendlyword profile image59
        Friendlywordposted 9 years agoin reply to this

        You are so Right about that Livelonger. I wish my Black Leaders had that attitude back in the Sixties. It's much smarter to hurt and kill as many people as you can; rather than try to change someones mind with some type of decency or kindness.

        They had at all wrong. That's why they were all killed.

  15. Arthur Fontes profile image85
    Arthur Fontesposted 9 years ago

    Friendlyword  I posted his apology earlier in the thread.  I saw it on Politico.

    sacrosanct  How is that for a word lol

    1. Friendlyword profile image59
      Friendlywordposted 9 years agoin reply to this

      I'm sure the Government and the people of Israel don't think of themselves that way. Like I said; a few people use words like Racist or Anti-Semite just to get attention in some way.

  16. mikelong profile image68
    mikelongposted 9 years ago

    A poor joke all around...and this is coming from the mouth of the former Commendant of the Marine Corps...

    I love his words "I think this to be true..."

    And I also love how "Jewish Merchant" becomes synonymous with Israeli...

    How sad..

    Then again, who is the dumber one, the person telling the joke, or those laughing at it?

    Or do they all equally qualify?

Closed to reply

This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)