Oscar-winning director Steven Spielberg said in an interview on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” that antisemitism today has risen to the point where it is “no longer lurking, but standing proud” like it was in Germany during the 1930s.
Spielberg was discussing his latest film, “The Fabelmans,” with Stephen Colbert; the film is a semi-autobiographical movie in which a character based on a young Spielberg is subjected to antisemitic bullying in high school. Colbert asked Spielberg if he was surprised at the rise of “public antisemitism” today; he replied it was “very, very surprising.”
“Antisemitism has always been there, it’s either been just around the corner and slightly out of sight but always lurking, or it has been much more overt like in Germany in the ’30s,” Spielberg said, per Variety. “But not since Germany in the ’30s have I witnessed antisemitism no longer lurking, but standing proud with hands on hips like Hitler and Mussolini, kind of daring us to defy it. I’ve never experienced this in my entire life, especially in this country.”
He added that “the marginalizing of people that aren’t part of some kind of a majority race is something that has been creeping up on us for years and years and years.” “Hate became a kind of membership to a club that has gotten more members than I ever thought was possible in America,” the filmmaker said, “and hate and antisemitism go hand in hand. You can’t separate one from the other.” However, Spielberg told Colbert he believes Anne Frank was correct in thinking “that most people are good.” “I think essentially at our core, there is goodness and there is empathy,” he said.
“Not since Germany in the '30s have I witnessed antisemitism, no longer lurking but standing proud with hands on hips like Hitler and Mussolini — kind of daring us to defy it. I’ve never experienced this in my entire life. Especially in this country.” — Steven Spielberg #Colbert pic.twitter.com/ZGMmnVEFMZ
— The Late Show (@colbertlateshow) March 3, 2023
Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt tweeted that Spielberg’s words were “incredibly poignant” and thanked Colbert for “distinguishing between public and private #antisemitism.” “Antisemitism has always been there, but right now more people feel emboldened to act on their hate,” Greenblatt wrote.
Incredibly poignant words from the brilliant Steven Spielberg. Thank you, @StephenAtHome, for asking the question and for distinguishing between public and private #antisemitism. Antisemitism has always been there, but right now more people feel emboldened to act on their hate. https://t.co/c6kemAFB88
— Jonathan Greenblatt (@JGreenblattADL) March 3, 2023
End Jew Hatred tweeted, “Spielberg has it right. Jew-hatred has always been hiding in plain sight, slowly becoming normalized and mainstream. Whether it comes from people shouting Nazi salutes or demanding to ‘globalize the Intifada,’ we see Jew-hatred in the open. Disgustingly, violently standing proud.” They added: “We need to confront Jew-hatred by calling it what it is. The fight for our freedom and our civil rights means de-normalizing hatred by challenging it. WE are the ones who need to stand proud, armed linked together, defiant in the face of evil.”
We need to confront Jew-hatred by calling it what it is. The fight for our freedom and our civil rights means de-normalizing hatred by challenging it. WE are the ones who need to stand proud, armed linked together, defiant in the face of evil.
— End Jew Hatred (@EndJewHatred) March 3, 2023
Spielberg established The USC Shoah Foundation in 1994, a year after his award-winning film Schindler’s List came out. The foundation recorded and preserves the world’s largest vault of Holocaust survivor testimonies.
This article has been updated.