Charles Krauthammer

WASHINGTON -- ``Borat" is many things: a sidesplitting triumph of slapstick and scatology, a runaway moneymaker and budding franchise, the worst thing to happen to Kazakhstan since the Mongol hordes, and, as columnist David Brooks astutely points out, a supreme display of elite snobbery reveling in the humiliation of the hoaxed hillbilly.

But it is one thing more, something Brooks alluded to in passing but which requires at least one elaboration: an unintentionally revealing demonstration of the unfortunate attitude of many liberal Jews toward working-class American Christians, especially evangelicals.

You know the shtick. Borat goes around America making anti-Semitic remarks in order to elicit a nodding anti-Semitic response. And with enough liquor and cajoling, he succeeds. In the most notorious such scene (on ``Da Ali G Show" where the character was born), Borat sings ``Throw the Jew Down the Well'' in an Arizona bar as the local rubes join in.

Sacha Baron Cohen, the creator of Borat, revealed his purpose for doing that in a rare out-of-character interview he granted Rolling Stone in part to counter charges that he was promoting anti-Semitism. On the face of it, this would be odd, given that Cohen is himself a Sabbath-observing Jew. His defense is that he is using Borat's anti-Semitism as a ``tool'' to expose it in others. And that his Arizona bar stunt revealed, if not anti-Semitism, then ``indifference'' to anti-Semitism. And that, he maintains, was the path to the Holocaust.

Whoaaaa. Does he really believe such rubbish? Can a man that smart (Cambridge, investment banker and now brilliant filmmaker) really believe that indifference to anti-Semitism and the road to the Holocaust are to be found in a country and western bar in Tucson?

Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world.

With anti-Semitism re-emerging in Europe and rampant in the Islamic world; with Iran acquiring the ultimate weapon of genocide and proclaiming its intention to wipe out the world's largest Jewish community (Israel); with America and, in particular, its Christian evangelicals the only remaining Gentile constituency anywhere willing to defend that besieged Jewish outpost -- is the American heartland really the locus of anti-Semitism? Is this the one place to go to find it?


Charles Krauthammer

Charles Krauthammer is a 1987 Pulitzer Prize winner, 1984 National Magazine Award winner, and a columnist for The Washington Post since 1985.

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