Over the weekend, the actress Amber Tamblyn, who was in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and not much memorable ever since, caused a stir when she took to Twitter to argue that a black man had tried to run her over. “This is not the first time a man from the African-American community in NYC has attempted to harm me or other women I know.”
Had the paragraph above been true, Tamblyn’s comments would’ve likely made headline news. At the very least, they would’ve stirred up a storm on the social media platform, where any innocuous statement is reason enough for accusations of bigotry these days. But Tamblyn wasn’t attacking African-Americans—she was targeting Hassidic Jews.
“If anyone in Brooklyn near the intersection of Washington Ave and Atlantic Ave just saw a Hasidic man in a grey van try to hit a woman and her baby in a stroller as she crossed a crosswalk, honking and touching the stroller with the car’s bumper, please DM me,” she tweeted on Sunday afternoon. “That woman was me.”
Then, as if her straight-forward description wasn’t enough, Tamblyn continued. “Thank you everyone for your kind words of support today,” she tweeted later in the day. “We are fine. But this is not the first time a man from the Hasidic community in NYC has attempted to harm me or other women I know. Any woman riding a bike through South Williamsburg can attest. I hope this guy is caught.”
Let’s take a moment and parse that statement. First of all, Tamblyn is suggesting that Hassidic men—a notoriously homogenous community where bitter fights over small differences never, ever break out—are collectively and uniformly more likely to be reckless drivers. Second of all, she’s implying that these marauders are misogynistic creeps who specifically target women.
Again, take a moment to imagine the same statement applied to virtually every other minority group in America. Imagine someone famous saying that all Asians are bad drivers, or all Arabs chauvinist pigs. We would rise to denounce such absurd, offensive, and benighted comments, and rightly so. And, thankfully, plenty of people—including Chabad’s stellar digital media maven, Mordechai Lightstone—did just that, tweeting at Tamblyn that her generalization was deeply troubling.
Which moved the actress not at all. “I’ll say this once,” she tweeted in response. “To anyone suggesting I’m anti-Semitic for identifying a man as Hasidic who hit my daughter’s stroller in a crosswalk with a car then rolled his window down, wagged his finger and told me ‘Watch where you’re going’: I will not be bullied or intimidated by you.”
But Tamblyn didn’t just identify the man as Hassidic (which is, in of itself, offensive, as the Misnagdim, too, are perfectly capable of being terrible drivers). She made a far more sweeping statement, claiming that members of a specific minority group have repeatedly and deliberately tried to harm her and other women. It’s the sort of statement that Tamblyn, being an outspoken advocate for a number of progressive causes, most likely would have never made about any other group of people in America. The very least she can do is drop the noxious premise that she is somehow the one being bullied or intimidated here and apologize for speaking so hurtfully about an entire community of underprivileged people.