Jewish-American filmmaker Steven Spielberg recently shared his views on the current state of antisemitism in the U.S. during an appearance on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, UK-based news outlet the Guardian reported last week.
In a discussion about his latest movie, the autobiographical drama The Fabelmans, the host asked Spielberg if he saw any resemblance between the discrimination faced by the young Jewish protagonist in 1960s California featured in his movie and the present day.
Spielberg said that he sees the ongoing rise of antisemitic rhetoric and crime in the U.S. as “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.
“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.”
The nearly 80-year-old movie director added that “I’ve never experienced this in my entire life, especially in this country.”
During his interview, Spielberg also revealed that he did not fully appreciate his Jewish heritage until he began working on his 1993 Holocaust drama, Schindler's List. He added that in his view the increase in antisemitism results from a recent worldwide trend of intolerance.
“Somehow, 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,” Spielberg said.
“Hate became a kind of membership to a club that has gotten more members than I ever thought was possible in America. And hate and antisemitism go hand in hand, you can’t separate one from the other.”
Spielberg also shared his intention for his latest film, and said that he hoped audiences would take away a message of hope from the movie.
In his new drama, the protagonist's tormentors are exposed as vulnerable and decent in their own ways, demonstrating that even those who engage in discriminatory behavior can ultimately be redeemed.
“To quote Anne Frank, I think she’s right when she said that most people are good, and I think essentially at our core, there is goodness and there is empathy.”