Jon Stewart spreading misinformation about the Jew

On last night’s The Daily Show, Jason Jones and Jessica Williams got a little carried away while they Monday Morning Quarterbacked Bowe Bergdahl’s failure to escape from Taliban prison. Their rendering of what he should have done got off to a realistic-enough start when Jones summoned his karate training to take out 20 guards, but quickly devolved into the absurd:

There she stands. A totally hot Taliban lady played by Sofia Vergara. And I think you know what that means [Jessica sings what the caption describes as “porn music”] — that means we bang. Respectfully. Through a sheet.

Stewart, who plays (for those who don’t regularly watch the show) the straight man to his army of senior correspondents, was quick to interject:

Stewart Hasidic different


But here’s the thing: Hasidic Jews don’t actually do that. Don’t believe me? Check snopes.

Now, it’s one thing for Jason Jones — certified Canadian goy — to confuse someone in Taliban garb with some sort of Hasidic Jew (not necessarily so far-fetched [a word that almost deserves to be Yiddish]), and invoke an untrue stereotype in the process. The nebach doesn’t know any better, nor should he.

Stewart, on the other hand, I can’t decide. Snopes notes, in part:

This rumor spreads chiefly among non-Orthodox Jews and is not often heard from those of other faiths. Whatever this snippet of misinformation’s beginnings, the whisper about holes in sheets has become a part of Jewish lore that reflects attitudes towards the fabled strictness of Orthodox practices. To even hint that sexuality between man and wife — a vibrant part of Judaism — has been squelched to this degree within the Orthodox branch is to strike at the heart of all things Jewish. Nothing could better capture the presumption about how joyless life must be within the Orthodox faith.

Pretty pseudo-insightful stuff coming from a website I only visit when I have good reason to believe what I’m reading is literally unbelievable.* And given how many misconceptions about Jews are already widespread, it’s interesting to come across a rumor that has heretofore only limited pick-up amongst the anti-Semites among us but is nevertheless a thing in certain Jewish circles.

Stewart probably knows the truth, but it’s at least enough to make me wonder: Was he entirely joking? Or was he genuinely a little bit confused? Can his primarily non-Jewish audience tell the difference? Does it matter if it can’t? Does anything?

When last we visited the Daily Show, Stu was busy praying to “Our Father who art in heaven“. Fastidiously overlooking the overt conceit — that this is a Christian mantra, and probably not what Leibowitz memorized for his bar mitzvah — I instead pointed out the delicious detail that whoever was responsible for transcribing the episode swapped in an arguably more-appropriate word into the Lord’s Prayer. Now, in the back of my mind — because I know Stewart is not actually ignorant — I find myself wondering just how in on that overt conceit the show’s host ever was.

*A brief google failed to turn up a source from which the site might have plagiarized the excerpt above, though anything is certainly possible.


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