Schindler’s List director Steven Spielberg, appearing Thursday on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, had some chilling words on the rise of public antisemitism in recent years. The director, whose most recent film is the Oscar-nominated The Fabelmans, said that “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.”
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The director, in what was billed as Spielberg’s first late-night interview, was asked by Colbert whether he is surprised by the recent, headline-making increase in incidents of antisemitism.
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“I find it very, very surprising,” Said Spielberg. “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. I’ve never experienced this in my entire life, especially in this country.”
“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 added. “Somehow in 2014, 2015, 2016 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.”
Asked by Colbert whether he had a countervailing message he’d like to share, Spielberg said that, “without painting a naive portrait of myself,” he’d turn to Anne Frank for such a message. “I think she was right when she said that most people are good. She said she saw good in most people. And I think essentially at our core, there is goodness and there is empathy.”
Spielberg also was asked about his initial reaction to seeing Fabelmans stars Paul Dano and Michelle Williams in costume as the characters based on his own parents. The director said he was expecting just another routine day on the set but, “I turned around and there was ‘my father and my mother,’ and I just burst into tears.”
Watch the Colbert-Spielberg interview above, with the comments about The Fabelmans arriving at the 4:10 mark and the discussion of antisemitism at the 6:08 mark.
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