While reading the Forward, I came across the article, “Why Is The Garden State Okay With This License Plate?” published on February 15, 2018. The article tells the story of Ira Stickler, a Jewish lawyer from New Jersey who drove behind a car with the license plate “Aryan10.” Stickler immediately associated this license plate and the individual driving the car with Nazism. He took his complaint to the state with a letter and a request for them to revoke the license plate.
New Jersey’s response? The word Aryan does not always have Nazi meaning and does not warrant revocation of the license plate.
It turns out that the owner of the car was an Indian man with a son named Aryan, based on a Sankrit word that means noble- completely unrelated to Nazism. Yet, Stickler still argued that the common meaning of the word Aryan is associated with anti-Semitism and Nazis and thus goes against the state license plate regulation that says the plates cannot be a “racial, ethnic, religious, lifestyle, or gender epithet.”
Although the State of New Jersey did not follow through with Stickler’s complaint because of the non-Nazi use of the word, this brings up the issue of how Holocaust language and connotations are still very present in society. While it is valid that the word Aryan may have different meanings and translations, when we hear it in the U.S. it is commonly associated with ideals of anti-Semitism and genocide. For this reason, I agree with Stickler in this case that “‘The state should err on the side of caution'” when reviewing license plates.
This shows the lasting legacies that the Holocaust has left on the language we use in the U.S. even 70 years later. This also shows the role that states have in regulating and monitoring language used to ensure it does not promote or provoke the same ideals associated with the Holocaust. Although the driver in this case was not a Nazi and did not have anti-semitic intentions, this language is still exists today and is still associated with the Holocaust. The article states that there are 9 other license plates in NJ with Aryan in them, begging the question, are these individuals driving around flashing their support for Nazis or genocide on their license plates, or is their use of the word Aryan “okay”?
Article “Why Is The Garden State Okay With This License Plate”: https://forward.com/news/394354/why-is-the-garden-state-okay-with-this-license-plate/