Columns

Did Jon Stewart Call J.K. Rowling an Anti-Semite?

Joel Ryan

Poor J.K. Rowling. She can’t catch a break.

Over the past year-and-a-half, she’s caught all sorts of flak from the left over what the wokes call “anti-transgender” views. In a June 2020 tweet, Rowling asserted that transgender women can’t truly identify with the things that biological women — or, as we like to call them, women — go through.

She expounded on her views in another thread, and she has refused to back down. Even in the face of attacks from the left, including some of the stars of the Harry Potter film franchise, many of whom owe their careers to Rowling’s work.

Can we now add accusations of anti-Semitism to the attacks against her? It depends on who’s doing the talking.

Variety is reporting that Jon Stewart has accused Rowling of anti-Semitism for minor characters in the Harry Potter universe. Apparently, the goblins who run the bank in the series resemble caricatures of Jewish people in the 1903 book The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Here’s how you know Jews are still where they are,” Stewart said on the podcast episode. “Talking to people, here’s what I say: Have you ever seen a ‘Harry Potter’ movie? Have you ever seen the scenes in Gringotts Bank? Do you know what those folks who run the bank are? Jews! And they’re like, ‘Oh, [that illustration is] from ‘Harry Potter!’” And you’re like, ‘No, that’s a caricature of a Jew from an anti-Semitic piece of literature.’ J.K. Rowling was like, ‘Can we get these guys to run our bank?’ It’s a wizarding world…we can ride dragons, you can have a pet owl… but who should run the bank? Jews. But what if the teeth were sharper?”

Here’s the full clip (language warning):

Confession time: I’ve never read the Harry Potter books or watched the movies. So I had to go to YouTube to see these creatures, and they look like a caricature of something. But it’s still a leap to me to throw full-blown anti-Semitism accusations around against Rowling.

But did Stewart accuse Rowling of anti-Semitism? He says no.

Stewart recorded a video where he explained the snippet of the podcast episode, noting that “no reasonable person” could characterize that conversation as being an accusation of anti-Semitism leveled at Rowling. Rather, Stewart says, the creatures in the novel and film serve as proof that “some tropes are so embedded in society that they’re basically invisible, even in a considered process like moviemaking.”

Related: Did J.K. Rowling Just Get Red-Pilled?

Here’s more from Stewart (again with some language):

The Campaign Against Antisemitism issued its own statement that acknowledged the tropes in culture and stood up for Rowling as “a tireless defender of the Jewish community.” The group also pointed out that these tropes have endured for centuries and didn’t originate with J.K. Rowling.

Once again, the entertainment media, which is almost exclusively of the left, is content to throw Rowling under the bus for something that wasn’t done with malicious intent. Good for Jon Stewart for calling out those who have twisted his words to mean something that they’re not — and good for the Campaign Against Antisemitism for standing up for the beleaguered author.

Update and Author’s Note: An earlier version of this article referred to the Campaign Against Antisemitism as a leftist group, and I’m told that they’re not. I also updated my characterization of their statement.