Starting this Friday, January 12th, Michael Rapaport will be performing three shows in as many days at Helium Comedy Club in Portland, OR. Like a variety of other reactionary comedians, Rapaport has catered to a shifting audience that embraces his bigotry-filled tirades. Unfortunately for him, Portland is not the place for this material.
When: 01/12/2024 - 01/14/2024, Doors open ~6pm, show at 7:30pm (7pm on Sunday)
Where: Helium Comedy Club (1510 SE 9th Ave)
Who is Michael Rapaport?
Michael Rapaport is an actor, comedian, and director. He is known for his roles in movies such as Higher Learning and shows like Atypical and Friends. More recently he has hosted a podcast (the creatively named: “I Am Rapaport: Stereo Podcast”).
Many now know him better for his bigoted public outbursts.
Why does this show concern antifascists?
For many years on social media, and throughout his podcast, Rapaport has become notorious for his hate-filled rants. These have recently included frequent and numerous endorsements of Israel’s genocidal attacks on Palestinians.
Through an examination of Rapaport’s social media and behavior we see how easily liberalism can morph into far-right inclinations. His history of racism, misogyny, harassment, Islamophobia, and other bigotry have paved the way for his current reactionary platform.
Islamophobia and extreme Anti-Palestinian Rhetoric
In one particular video Rapaport calls Gaza a “hell hole” and claims that Palestinians do not really want to live there. He also repeats the call that Hamas must be eradicated (while boosting posts conflating Hamas with all Palestinians). This same logic is how Israel has justified killing tens of thousands of Palestinians and demolishing the vast majority of Palestinians’ homes in Gaza.
He has also leveraged his platform to boost posts containing the full names and photos of pro-Palestinian female Arab protesters with the incendiary and baseless accusation of “Jew hater”.
In another video, Rapaport states that there “ain’t gonna be no Christmas in the Gaza strip” and that “Santa Claus can’t land his sled in Gaza”. This shows a gleeful disregard for the thousands of civilians who have been killed by Israeli bombing and for the millions more who have been displaced in Gaza since the beginning of the war.
A History of Bigotry
Rapaport has for a long time engaged in blatant racism and bigotry. He even relishes in it:
While Rapaport loves to appropriate Black culture, he has shown a lot less love towards Black people. According to The Root, he once “posted and then deleted a picture of Real Housewives of Atlanta actress Kenya Moore alongside a photo of a gorilla”.
The Root highlights in the same article that Rapaport, commenting on a Black Miss USA winner, said: “I didn’t wanna say it on live TV, but Kenya’s feet are ashy as fuck! Them shits are ashy. I didn’t wanna say it on live TV ‘cause I’m a gentleman, but pan down to them shits. She can cut glass with them shits.”
His racism and misogyny are accompanied by more than just statements. His harassment of former girlfriend Lili Taylor is well-documented.
“[Rapaport] pleaded guilty to aggravated harassment in a New York courtroom Monday. He told the judge he called Taylor 21 times in four days after they split up. Then, on May 17, 1997, he showed up at Taylor’s apartment at 1 a.m. and repeatedly banged on her window.”
In another incident, Rapaport dismissed Black actor John Boyega’s experience with the Disney franchise. When Boyega discusses the racism he experienced in regard to how his character was handled by Disney executives, Rapaport chided him, saying he should “be grateful” he got the role.
Movement to the right
Michael Rapaport has made a point of making critical remarks about Donald Trump in the past. Most of these comments have been criticizing his appearance or referring to him as “Pig Dick Donald”. But in a recent video, Rapaport now says that voting for Trump is “on the table”. He lists off grievances about Israel, homelessness, and immigration as his rationale. Evidently Joe Biden — who has bypassed Congress to sell Israel more weapons, whose administration has blocked UN Security Council resolutions for a ceasefire, who is emphatic about his Zionism and his “unwavering support” for Israel in spite of their growing list of war crimes — is not resolute enough for Michael Rapaport.
Rapaport’s critiques of Trump and previous political orientation were always at best superficial. They were also steeped in fatphobia, body shaming, and other reactionary perspectives. Facing pushback about his vitriol, he has adopted the playbook of railing against “cancel culture” and embracing the only audience that will tolerate him.
Rapaport has also jumped at interviews with disgraced personalities like Chris Cuomo and is all too happy to mix with the MAGA crowd if those are the people who will prop up his career prospects.
This is a case study of the fragility of ill-defined principles and how they leave one susceptible to increasingly dangerous political perspectives.
Call to Action
Michael Rapaport is not simply a bad comedian, a racist, and a misogynist; he’s not just a fringe instigator who shouts about his bigoted grievances.
He is also representative of the perspectives that are justifying mass atrocities. He uses his platform and resources to actively promote and excuse Israel’s ethnic cleansing and war crimes in Gaza.
He has no business spreading this garbage in Portland.
This article cannot begin to cover the suffering of Palestinians amidst what many experts have called the second Nakba and human rights and international law experts have classified as a clear case of genocide. South Africa has just brought formal charges of genocide to the International Court of Justice. Below is a small list of resources to learn more and find tangible ways to support: