Amy Schumer “Jew With Horns” Tweet Is Offensive, Wrong And Not Funny (COMMENTARY)
Amy Schumer’s tweeted photo on Wednesday showing her standing between a bass clarinet and saxophone player with the caption, “A Jew with horns,” is offensive and wrong. While comedy can provoke discussion, it’s purpose is not to perpetuate hateful and inaccurate stereotypes. And Schumer’s Twitter message, which plays off the misconception that Jews are horned creatures, accomplishes less comically than it does to reignite misguided prejudice.
The misconception that Jews have horns was most notably propagated by Michelangelo, whose Moses sculpture, which sits in a Rome church, features the Jewish leader with two protrusions atop his head. That seemingly was a result of the misinterpretation of the Bible’s book of Exodus, which noted that after Moses communicated with God on Mount Horeb, his face had “karnay,” the Hebrew word for shining “rays.” But the mistaken translation of “karnay” for the phonetically similar “karnim,” the Hebrew word for “horns,” led to the inaccurate belief that Moses (and the Jewish people) had horns.
Anti-Semites have used that anatomically inaccurate error to fuel their bigotry and portray Jews as horned individuals, like the devil or Satan. The wholly untrue imagery was later co-opted by the Nazis, who depicted Jews in their propaganda as satanic people.
Any of this funny yet?
Undoubtedly, Schumer will justify her mildly amusing “joke” by noting that she herself was raised Jewish and can poke fun at herself, as she often does with her comedy. But does that make it okay for her to spread untrue and hurtful stereotypes about Jews? Would jokes by a popular black or Latino comedian be considered funny if he or she tweeted to their millions of followers a wholly and historically painful stereotype about their people for non-minorities to laugh at?
Who’s the audience for Schumer’s joke? The 0.2 percent of Jews around the world? The vastly larger percentage of anti-Semites?
Schumer’s “Jew with horns” tweet misses the point that sometimes humor doesn’t trump hurtful stereotypes. It’s time for Schumer to grab her tweet by the horns and apologize for perpetuating this slanderous depiction of Jews for a mere half-laugh.