Last year over the holidays, my sister and her husband vacationed with his entire family at a Club Med in Mexico. For a fun-filled week they swam and snorkeled and basked in the sun, surrounded by their loved ones, although my sister noticed that whenever her husband appeared on the scene, the staff would act a little odd, staring, whispering behind their hands. On the last day of the trip, one of the waiters in the main dining room approached my brother-in-law shyly and furtively. “Excuse me, sir,” he said, “but we’ve all be wondering all week long, and before you leave you have to tell us: Are you Macklemore?”
I’m telling you this story not to brag that my sister is married to Macklemore (she isn’t) but merely to prove that Macklemore probably doesn’t really need to make any special effort to pass for a nice Jewish boy. Clearly nobody told him this, however, and despite his assertion that he has “hella good Jewish homies,” he nevertheless donned a fake hook nose, black wig, and false beard to play a secret show in Seattle last Friday, cutting a figure that above-mentioned Jewish homies might find just a bissel offensive. When confronted by the angry online mob, Macklemore claimed it was just a silly costume, and he never meant to upset anyone.
Which I actually believe! I don’t think that Macklemore put on that nose because he believes that Jews are a parasitic race infecting the Aryan gene pool, or even that he supports the BDS movement, unless he thinks it has something to do with dominatrixes and sex dungeons (and, really, who hasn’t made that mistake?). I think he probably thought, “all my Jewish homies make jokes about Jewish stuff all the time, so won’t it be hilarious if I dress up like this?” And maybe it would have been, if he was in fact one of his Jewish homies.
But he’s not, and since the Internet seems to be lit up with outrage lately, both at cultural appropriation and racial insensitivity, and those who are outraged at what they see as a concerted effort to stop them from engaging in same, let’s take this opportunity to lay out a few simple ground rules for escaping online rage:
1. You don’t get to make mean jokes about Jews if you aren’t actually Jewish. (And stay away from hook noses no matter what.)
2. You don’t get to say the N-word if you aren’t black.
3. If you aren’t gay, you don’t get to publicly call anyone a “toxic little queen.”
I could go on and on, but you get the gist. There may be exceptions—there are always exceptions. If you have a problem with this, I really have to wonder why you so badly need to make that crack about Jewish bankers, or use the kind of language Kanye West does. The rest of us shouldn’t have much trouble erring on the side of respect. It’s like Tina Fey says about wearing a bra: You’ll never be sorry you did. And for the record, my brother-in-law does look a bit like Macklemore.