To CBS and Colbert:
I watched The Late Show on Monday 12/23/19. I was shocked to my core and I have been angered ever since. On this show, Colbert happily performed a skit that “normalized” old anti-Semitic tropes mocking Jews and their traditions (not politicians-but an entire people for who they are) and a supposed social commentator has normalized anti-Semitism to a national audience and CBS simply allowed it. In the days following the airing of this show, six hate crimes against Jews, in New York City alone, followed this performance.
On the Late Show with Stephen Colbert, I couldn’t quite believe what I was hearing. Colbert talked about the merger of CBS and Viacom. He brings out a glass wrapped in a towel and stomps on it and then kicks it off the stage. He was equating a Jewish wedding practice with a big business deal- a common anti-Semitic hate troupe that Jews are about money and control things. And then kicking the symbol off the stage showed that Jewish practices are to be kicked and shown no respect. Then he performed a mocking dance across the stage a number of times (with an intentionally moronic look on his face) of the dance Jews partake in at their weddings, the Hora. The whole feel was very mocking and meant to demean- mocking Jews and their silly-looking practices which can be mocked for comedy on some “high-brow” TV show with the permission of the network. Really? He kept doing it. Someone off-camera on the crew signaled him to stop but his response was, “Come on. You don’t know how to have fun.” Really? So it’s fun to mock Jews eh Stevie? What made it worse was that it was clear this mock-dancing was a spontaneous act by Colbert.
I was very insulted as he is stating to millions watching that is ok to equate Jewish traditions, money and societal control and follow it up by a disrespectful dance intended to mock the tradition or say Jews are weird and deserve mocking. Then when asked to stop he tells them they don’t know how to have fun???!!!! This needs to be confronted immediately by the network. Colbert-the social commentator- just performed and normalized many old anti-Semitic troupes and actions to millions of viewers. And he seemed to so enjoy it like a little boy smiling mischievously. How sickening it was to watch someone you had trusted and enjoyed to perform such classic hate tropes. The network needs to do something about this and confront it immediately.
I never met one side of my family, save my grandmother and her brother. Things started back then just like your hateful and disrespectful rant at first. They built from there.
Is it connected that the same week following Colbert’s anti-Semitic act there were six attacks on Jews in New York. Did Colbert’s actions encourage these acts? Does the NYPD know about this performance prior to the attacks in NYC?
Giuliani made his deeply and standard anti-Semitic accusations (read https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/24/opinions/rudy-giuliani-george-soros-anti-semitism-golinkin/index.html) the same day. Colbert and CBS are now on the level of those the show piously mocked. I can no longer watch Colbert as underneath his smile and sarcasm is vileness that CBS has fed and encouraged others to pick up and even “enjoy.” You need to acknowledge the true nature of those televised acts and officially and publically apologize and have Colbert take a class on anti-Semitism. You need to take a long look at yourselves and deal with this. This is really important. Our society is quickly marching to a precipice and you now have shown your network and Colbert to be a smiling drum major out front. What is scary is that you all seem to have no awareness of any of this. Charlottesville had nothing on you Monday night. That is truly disturbing.
I never saw Colbert (nor do I want to) take a gospel robe and kick it off stage and do a mocking dance to mock Africans-Americans over and over. You never desired (thankfully) to make humor at the expense of a racial group that would be unjustly wounded by it. I never saw you (nor do I want to) kick a prayer rug of Muslims off stage and then mock their traditions dancing on stage. You would find that intolerable wouldn’t you Steve and CBS? So why do you think it is ok to do just that to Jews? Why Stephen? Why CBS? You and the network need to think about this long and hard, as the change in the last year in our nation is truly horrifying and rapidly moving with new normalization as you demonstrated and contributed to. This was not political satire on a politician. This was anti-Semitism plain and simple. It is fast becoming normalized. You just took a big step and added your vote to that normalization process Stephen and CBS. Do you even see that? Can you even acknowledge that? Do you have the courage to honestly examine your actions and beliefs?
Stephen Colbert- you need to realize what you did that night. You need to acknowledge it and make a public apology without a hint of your sarcasm that you so nurture. You need to state this danger and that it infiltrated you as it is, in the last year, become normalized and you thought you could make such disrespectful and hateful actions on national TV and “have fun.” You need to acknowledge the true nature of those televised acts and officially and publically apologize and have take a class on anti-Semitism. CBS MUST confront this immediately. I am still stunned that the network let this happen and did not publicly confront this disgrace. What comes up in the bucket is down in the well.
You need to stop and examine yourselves. Colbert needs to sign up for a class to educate him on what he did and the damage and dangers he caused. Does the NYPD know of his acts in relation to the six hate crimes on Jews that immediately followed his “performance?” Many await the response from CBS and Colbert.
Richard Schwartz grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In 1968 at Central High School he won varsity football’s “Team Award” and was the undefeated Pennsylvania State Fencing Champion in the weapon Epe in the 1969 competition. Schwartz graduated from Temple University in 1973 with a bachelor’s degree in English literature. For two years while at Temple he worked on a Pennsylvania Dutch farm eleven hours a day, three days a week.
He came to Berkeley in 1973 and formed the New World Trio, an acoustical jazz trio with Eric Vaughan (Godson of Sarah Vaughan) on piano, Samahdi Aheshma (played with Miles Davis at sixteen years old) on bass, and himself on drums. He also played in Abukar, a Berkeley Latin jazz sextet, and taught drums in a Berkeley after-school program.
In 1976 Schwartz joined the U.S. Forest Service to fight fires in the Sierra. It was during this time that he came across an ancient sixty-five foot stone circle near Truckee. His curiosity about this configuration led to his first book, “The Circle of Stones,” a nonfiction archeological mystery.
Schwartz has spoken to and/or written articles for or been reviewed or interviewed by The American Library Association, The Commonwealth Club of San Francisco, The Conference of California Historical Societies, The California Historical Society, American History Magazine, The California Native Plant Society, The California State Library, The Construction Specification Institute, The Society of California Archivists, The California Preservation Society, The Jewish Book Council, The Midwest Review of Books, The National Charity League, The Oakland Museum of California History Guild, The United States Geological Survey, The Oakland Museum of California, The East Bay Regional Parks, San Francisco State University, De Anza College, The 1906 Great Earthquake and Fire Exposition, The 1906 Centennial Symposium, The Bay Area Earthquake Alliance, The 1868 Hayward Earthquake Alliance, The Berkeley Shellmound Conference, Bay Area Litquake, Native Berkeley Ancient Wisdom for Troubled Times, San Francisco Statue University Labor Fest, The Alameda County Historical Society, The Alameda Museum, The Albany Historical Society, The City of Walnut Creek, The Contra Costa County Historical Society, The Cub Scouts of America, The Alameda History Museum, The Albany Historical Society, The Berkeley Architectural Heritage Association, The Berkeley Path Wanderers, The Berkeley City Commons Club, The Berkeley Historical Society, The Contra Coasta Historical Society, The East Bay Media Center, The El Cerrito Historical Society, The El Cerrito Trail Treckers Hillside Festival, The Emperor’s Bridge Campaign, History Expo by the Hercules Historical Society, The Lafeyette Historical Society, The Martinez Historical Society, The Moraga Historical Society, Native Here Nursery, The Oakland Heritage Alliance, Richmond Museum of History, Pt. Richmond Writers Group, San Francisco History Days, The San Leandro Historical Society, The Sonoma Valley Historical Society, The Southern Jewish Historical Society, The Thousand Oaks Neighborhood Association, The Truckee Historical Society, The Gov. Pardee Home Museum, The Westerners, The Bay Area Rock Art Research Association, Publishers Weekly’s Book Life, This Week in America radio show, The History Author Show, WMST, Mount Sterling, KY, Mornings on Main with Dan Manly, Helping History Happen radio show, KXJZ Capital Public Radio Sacramento, West Coast Live with Sedge Thompson, The San Francisco Chronicle, SFGATE.com, The Berkeley Daily Planet, The Berkeley Voice, The California Monthly, The Daily Californian, The East Bay Express, The East Bay Times, The Forward, The Jewish Book Council, The Jewish News of Northern California, JWeekly, The Jewish Ledger, Custer Country Chronicle, Splice Today, Jamie Jobbs Backstage Pass, The Jewish Exponent of Philadelphia, The Kanzhongguo Association Newspaper, The Monthly, The Martinez Gazette, The Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, The Oakland Tribune, Oakland Magazine, The Oakland Tribune, SilentHollywood.com, San Francisco Main Library, TheaterJones.com, The Contra Costa Times, WGUB PBS NPR affiliate Western Michigan, KCBS, KQED, KPFA, KALX, KMPT, West Coast Live, ABC Channel 7, KTVU Channel 2, KRON Channel 4, KPIX Channel 5, KTSF Channel 26, The Albany Public Library, The Berkeley Public Library, The California State Library, The Oakland Public Library, The San Francisco Public Libraries, The Kensington Public Library, The El Cerrito Public Library, Free Libraries of Philadelphia, The Sacramento Public Library, Publishers Weekly, The Watershed Environmental Poetry Festival, The Hotel Shattuck Plaza, The Audubon Society, Barnes and Noble in Oakland and Berkeley, CA and Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia, Kiwanas Club, Rotary Club, churches, synogogues, schools, senior centers, Kids camps, Berkeley Boy Scouts, book clubs, bookstores and other institutions on this and other Native American and American historical topics.
In 1982 Schwartz earned his General Building Contractors license from the State of California, where he is also certified to condemn and examine buildings for the State after an earthquake. He continues through the present to be active in the construction trades and has specialized in design, lighting design exterior, lighting design interior, earthquake retrofitting, drainage/water issues, and leak diagnosis work.
In the early 1990s he joined a Brazilian samba school and played in the San Francisco and Oakland Carnivals. In 1992 he traveled to Brazil and studied Afro-Brazilian drumming with Carlinios Brown. He co-led Orixa Ba Ba of San Francisco on billings that included Ray Charles and Tower of Power. The group also performed on San Francisco’s KQED television.
In 1996 Schwartz was at the Berkeley Historical Society when a stack of Berkeley newspapers circa 1900 was about to be discarded by the Society. He rescued the newspapers by taking them home. These rescued “Berkeley Gazettes” became the basis for the book “Berkeley 1900.” Richard Schwartz put four years into the research, writing, and production of “Berkeley 1900” and published it himself. “Berkeley 1900” was on the “East Bay Best Sellers List” in the “East Bay Express” for ten months. The book was chosen by the “San Francisco Chronicle” as one of ten “Holiday Gift Books of the Year” in 2000.
Schwartz released “Earthquake Exodus, 1906” in November, 2005. It is the only book to focus on the refugees and relief effort instead of the disaster. Mayor Tom Bates of Berkeley has already utilized the research in the book to comment in the “San Francisco Chronicle” on the response to Katrina. Schwartz presented a Certificate of Honor from then-San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom to the citizens of Berkeley for Berkelyeans’ role in saving the lives of tens of thousands of refugees from the San Francisco 1906 Earthquake. The book was featured on many local TV and radio stations and received recognition in Europe.
In July of 2007, Schwartz released the book, “Eccentrics, Heroes, and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley” which documents the lives of seventeen men and women who were famous in their day (1850-1925), but have been all but forgotten in our modern world. It was these colorful pioneers that gave Berkeley its original character. Their stories will be well utilized by our current citizens. The reviews and citizen feedback and appreciation of this latest work have been gratifying to Schwartz. “Eccentrics, Heroes, and Cutthroats of Old Berkeley” was picked as a 2007-2008 “Holiday Gift Book of the Year” by the “San Francisco Chronicle”, and “Alameda Magazine” and the staffs at Pegasus Books and Cody’s Books also singled out the book as one of their favorites for the holidays.
In September of 2009, the 10th Anniversary Edition of “Berkeley 1900, Daily Life at the Turn of the Century” was released. It contains 150 new photos, many of which were never seen publicly before. They represented ten additional years of pioneer descendants contacting Schwartz with their family albums and years of searching for new photos by Schwartz. The reception this beloved book received, which had been sold out and out of print since 2003, has been most vigorous by the press and public.
As of 2011, Schwartz has spoken at hundreds of events and continues to promote history, while still working his day job as a building contractor. He also has recorded over 200 previously unknown local Indian sites, of which he sends reports to the State archive at Sonoma State University. (C.H.R.I.S.) In 2014 he was hired by the archeological consulting firm that was studying the West Berkeley Shellmound to share his knowledge of many archeological sites in the area. If you ever found or know of such sites or artifact finds, please email him. His email button is at the top of the page. Schwartz is working on a number of new history books.
In 2017, Richard released “The Man Who Lit Lady Liberty, The Extraordinary Rise and Fall of Actor M. B. Curtis.” The book has been accepted in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Margret Herrick Collection. It is on sale at the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island National Parks. Richard has given scores of interviews and talks on this forgotten American Cultural hero. The book won the Bronze Medal for Biography from the 2018 Independent Publishers Book Awards.