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ADL Letter to Sacha Baron Cohen

Anti-Defamation League

Sacha Baron Cohen
"Da Ali G Show"
     August 9, 2004

Dear Mr. Cohen:

We are writing about the "Da Ali G Show" episode "Peace" that aired on HBO on August 1.

We have received hundreds of complaints about your recent episode in which Borat sang, "Throw the Jew down the well, so my country can be free!  Grab them by the horns, and we have big party!" to a gleeful audience at a country-western bar in Tucson, Arizona.
While we understand this scene was an attempt to show how easily a group of ordinary people can be encouraged to join in an anti-Semitic chorus, we are concerned that the irony may have been lost on some of your audience or worse, that some of your viewers may have simply accepted Borat's statements about Jews at face value.

We appreciate that the characters on your show "Ali G" the aspiring British hip-hop star/commentator, "Borat" the Kazakhstani television reporter, and "Bruno" the Austrian fashion critic are vehicles by which you seek to unmask the absurd and the racism and homophobia that often go with it.  However, in attempting to expose bigotry and prejudice you also bear a responsibility to be sensitive.  Many viewers of this particular episode have told us they found the segment distasteful, and even dangerous.
We hope that in future you will consider these sensitivities before airing segments that contain unfiltered expressions of bigotry or anti-Semitism.  We would certainly be happy to discuss this with you.


Anti-Defamation League

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Statement On The Comedy Of Sacha Baron Cohen, A.K.A. "Borat"
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2004 Anti-Defamation League