Humorist and writer Lena Dunham wrote an essay in The New Yorker in which she quizzes readers on whether a description applies to her “Jewish boyfriend” or her dog.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today reacted to the essay. The article, it said, was “tasteless” and “plays with offensive stereotypes” about Jews.
In the quiz, Dunham ruminates on whether she should give up her Jewish boyfriend for her dog, noting that, among other things, he “doesn’t tip,” “never brings his wallet anywhere” and “comes from a culture in which mothers focus every ounce of their attention on their offspring and don’t acknowledge their own need for independence as women.”
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
Humor is a matter of taste, and people can disagree if it is funny or not. Some will certainly find offensive Lena Dunham’s stereotypes about cheap Jews offensive. Others will take issue with the very idea of comparing a dog and a Jewish boyfriend. The piece is particularly troubling because it evokes memories of the “No Jews or Dogs Allowed signs from our own early history in this country, and also because, in a much more sinister way, many in the Muslim world today hatefully refer to Jews as “dogs.”
We doubt that Ms. Dunham had any intention of evoking such comparisons. While we understand that humor is its own special brand of expression and always try to give leeway to comedians, we wish that she had chosen another, less insensitive way to publicly reflect on her boyfriend’s virtues and vices. We are surprised that the New Yorker chose to print it.