All-in-all, I’d call it a very unwise joke for a security advisor to The American President to make, especially if the president is trying to convince the nation -by his words more than his actions- that he supports capitalism and the free market, the existence of Israel and the defeat of the Taliban.
The truth is the joke would have been inappropriate under any president; the White House and its administrators should never be in the business of laughing at anyone but themselves, because other-directed humor signals insecurity; self-denigrating humor does the opposite.
A joke, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder, and -to some extent- so is a slur. How one receives a thing says much more about oneself than any joke or compliment or hateful remark.
If you take the events of the last few days, you could easily conclude that religion is considered, at least by the left, as the last “safe” object of such derisive humor. Any other kind of stereotypical humor is considered off limits, and yet in the last few days we have seen all sorts of religion based humor, not to mention replays of religion based humor to justify religion based humor. If you think about that it’s the old “everybody’s doing it” defense.
I take this as a sign of the general disfavor in which religion finds itself. And much of it comes form the perception that religion is “intolerant.” Whether it is Islamic threats of violence, or Evangelical dismissal of political candidates of other religions, there is sufficient evidence to justify such concerns. If religion is going to keep its place in society, we need to learn how better to handle our differences. Islamic threats of violence are a problem not easily solved, but religion based voting seems pretty easy to me.
Lowell adds . . .
I just have to weigh in on this one. The Jewish joke in this situation used the stereotype of Jews as greedy merchants. I find this event almost unbelieveable.
Here’s the video of National Security Adviser General James Jones giving the keynote speech at a meeting of the Washington Institute For Near East Policy:
I am a little pressed for time today, so will simply say that this is so wrong and so inappropriate on so many levels that I hesitate even to being trying to list them. I do wonder what would be happening if a Republican had made this mistake. (Imagine Mitt Romney telling a joke like that. He has too much class to do so, but try anyway.)
There are more links and commentary at The Lid.