“Anti-Semitism” is rooting for Hamas. Making fun of your nebbish boyfriend is lame, but it should not make any rational person think of Iran’s supreme leader. I’ve heard plenty of malicious and offensive anti-Semitic jokes in my life, but it would be tough to conjure up the indignation to believe that Dunham was flirting with anything resembling bigotry. Making fun of innocuous stereotypes — and Dunham is part Jewish and lives in a world teeming with Jews — in the pages of a friendly publication evokes memories of subpar Catskill comedians, not long-dead nativists.
The problem with this kind of prefabricated reaction is not that it emboldens haters but that it crowds out legitimate grievances. Everything begins to stink of politics, and we start sounding like a bunch of humorless protesters. There is nothing wrong with calling out people for the things they say, but there is something fundamentally illiberal about a mob’s hounding people for every stupid tweet or making snap judgments about entire careers based on a few comments. Most often, the purpose is to chill speech. At some point, Americans decided they were going to be offended by everything. And, I guess, that’s what really offends me most.