The Holocaust is to Jews What Slavery is to Blacks

Kanye West performing in Toronto, Canada, July 2015.

(May 2nd, 2018)

In recent days, rapper Kanye West has made news across political lines. After a dramatic shift in ideology, the rapper came out in support of Donald Trump. In the TMZ news room, he remarked that 400 years of enslavement for blacks in America sounds like a choice. For Jews this was a line of thinking that did not feel foreign as some have blamed the Jews for not fighting back in the Holocaust. The “sheep to the slaughter” trope is a topic we have explored extensively in class. In one of the posts here on the blog, we saw how the Holocaust is being invoked in the gun control movement and counter-movement. Some have remarked that if Jews had not handed over their guns, the Holocaust would not have happened.

In response to a headline reading “The Holocaust is to Jews as Slavery is to blacks” , British comedian David Baddiel, who has a Twitter following of 526,000, tweeted “So. Just a heads up, Kanye: that wasn’t a choice, either”. Regardless of the fact that Kayne West has, by some accounts, gone off the deep end, the larger issue is that he is not alone in his line of thought. The conversations surrounding these posts were full of people saying that they would have fought in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising or revolted in a manner similar to the nation of Haiti. In truth, arguments such as these are intellectually lazy. These arguments do not account for the fact that in both the Holocaust and Slavery, the victims were often in unfamiliar places, among unfamiliar languages, and unarmed.

Holocaust Joke in Popular New Netflix Stand-Up Special

In the new Netflix special The Honeymoon Stand-Up Special,  comedians Natasha Leggero and Moshe Kasher, a married couple, team up to poke fun at marriage and pregnancy. In the third part of the series, Natasha brings up how she converted to Judaism when she married Moshe, and the joke follows:

Natasha: Why do jews make it so hard for you to convert?

Moshe: I don’t know, we don’t want you.

Natasha: But you would think they would want more members since that membership drop-off that happened a while ago. [audience groans] … I’m Jewish, I can say that.

Moshe: Yeah, I’ll always remember that saying I was raised with, “Never forget that membership drop-off that happened a while ago.”

Since we’ve analyzed jokes in class before, and come up with the ideology that jokes about the Holocaust that reference the people who who murdered aren’t funny, I immediately disliked the joke. But the point brought up by Natasha is good one–she’s Jewish now, she can say it. Of course, she’s again pointing out that she wasn’t raised Jewish, she’s newly converted, and she’s aware of her place there. Her awareness that the joke is outside of her culture, and the fact that her Jewish husband had to agree to the joke beforehand, makes it, to me, slightly more bearable.

Natasha is known for her raunchy, uncomfortable comedy, and this isn’t the first time she’s made a Holocaust joke. On Jimmy Kimmel Live this January, Natasha made a reference to Hitler when discussing how nervous she was to see what kind of person her unborn baby would turn out to be, saying, “What if it sucks? Like, Hitler’s mom didn’t know. She was probably like, ‘I hope its a boy.'” Which is clearly less offensive joke than the prior. Analyzing both jokes together really demonstrates which context Holocaust related material can be funny or unfunny.

The Honeymoon Stand-Up Special is viewable here: https://www.netflix.com/watch/80213719?trackId=13752289&tctx=0%2C2%2Cbb676e4a-de79-4961-a501-7192e6d8d8af-150726189%2C%2C

The interview with Jimmy Kimmel is viewable here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_21l58rJnHk

 

Pug trained to do Nazi salute for viral YouTube video

While on Twitter, I came across a link for a Washington Post article published April 23rd. The article discussed a Scottish man, Mark Meechan, who posted a video of his girlfriends pug in 2016. The video has since been viewed over a million times, making it pop culture. The video shows a pug watching Hitler’s rally and raising its paw anytime Hitler says “Sieg Heil”. Meechan also questions the dog over and over again “Do you want to gas the Jews?” to which the dog will raise its paw and give a Nazi salute.

On Monday, a sheriff gave Meechan a fine of $1,100 dollars because he was found guilty of a hate crime, because the video was found to be both racist and Anti-Semitic. Meechan claims that he was just trying to annoy his girlfriend because she was constantly saying how cute her dog was, and he wanted the dog to become the least cute thing possible, a Nazi.

The video has created a lot of controversy. Many claiming that the video is Anti-Semitic and extremely offensive. Ephraim Borowski, director of the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities was deeply offended and claimed he felt “sorry for the dog”. Comedians Ricky Gervais and David Baddiel claimed that Meechan has the right to make jokes like he did because he has a right to free speech. Meechan agrees and says he feels like he did nothing wrong and that he has a rights for freedom of speech and freedom of expression.

            I found this offensive. I do not think anyone should be training an animal to respond to the words of Hitler especially with Meechan constantly repeating over and over again “Do you want to gas the Jews?” I do not think it was an okay thing to do just to get a lot of views on YouTube. I also found it upsetting that he did not understand why anyone would be upset by his actions. I think things like this are hard to judge however because people respond to comedy in very different ways. I, however, did find it offensive.

I have attached a link for the article and video here. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2018/04/23/he-trained-a-pug-to-do-a-nazi-salute-for-a-youtube-video-now-hes-been-fined-for-a-hate-crime/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.d073a6d606d2

 

Documentary on Brazil’s Military Rule being Compared to Hitler

I recently came across an Atlantic article that talked about how a newly planned Netflix documentary series was to dramatize the military government rule that was present in Brazil up until the 1980s. Politicians in Brazil have been quick to criticize the series for the unfavorable and biased angle that the series would have. Brazil’s former president Dilma Rousseff released a statement where she likened the series to “a movie where Winston Churchill makes a deal with Adolf Hitler to attack the United States.” Obviously, this is a truly problematic statement. The idea of evoking the Holocaust and Hitler as a way to ratchet up an argument is something that we have talked about a great deal in class. However, this does not help Rousseff’s argument as the idea of using Nazism as the ultimate evil for the purposes of comparison is useless. If you are creating a pinnacle that cannot be recreated, then by drawing comparisons between a bad political dramatization with Nazism; you are degrading the scale and scope of the atrocity that was the Holocaust and the Nazi regime.

Popular Queer Artist Remembers the Holocausts

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, popular queer artist known as Kimchi Cuddles posted a drawing and a paragraph remembering the Holocaust. Their comics are popular in queer communities, Kimchi Cuddles boasts a 30,000 follower count on Facebook. They made a point to remember the 6 million Jewish victims that had been killed, and afterwards included other victims of Nazi terror, like disabled people, queer people, and Roma people. They themselves are Jewish and wrote about their personal experience with anti-semitism.

The post ends with a warning about how dangerous it is to separate groups of people into “us” and “them”. Ending with, “Today I remember you, everyone who’s family was directly affected by the Holocaust, and light a memorial candle because today I remember that your family is mine too”.

The memorial was a touching one, and Kimchi Cuddle’s reminder of current antisemitism does not let people of the hook in this act of remembrance.

I was surprised when this post appeared on my Facebook feed. I follow Kimchi Cuddles for the comics they make about the politics of queerness, and I cannot remember seeing a cartoon they have made about the politics of other identities they have.

Unfortunately, antisemitism in the queer community is rampant, in 2017 a group of Jewish women were kicked out of the pride parade for having a rainbow flag with the star of David on it. Kimchi Cuddle’s made a note to draw and post their drawing on Holocaust Remembrance Day to attempt to dispel some antisemitism by reminding her followers where antisemitism, and “othering” in general leads.

See their post here.

New Netflix Docuseries Includes Holocaust Comparison

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Image result for wild wild country

A new Netflix docuseries has dropped, and if you haven’t seen it yet you probably should. Wild Wild Country is a six-part series detailing the rise and fall of Indian guru Bhagwan Rajneesh’s utopian community established in the wilderness of Oregon. It’s an absolutely wild ride that includes rigging local elections, one of the nations longest wiretapping cases, the poisoning of a small town, and immigration fraud on a massive scale.  The different sides of the story are told through a combination of archival footage and new interviews conducted with people from every facet of the story. One thing that struck me was the depth to which everyone interviewed, regardless of whether they were a part of the commune or an enemy of it, whole-heartedly believed they were on the right side of history.

One of the people interviewed was Bhagwan’s former personal secretary and mastermind of most of the crimes that happened, Ma Aanad Sheela. She was a central figure throughout the series, and listening to her talk without any sign of remorse about what she did was one of the most surreal parts of watching the show. The Holocaust becomes involved at this point because of two pieces of archival footage that play in the third episode of the series. In the first on, a local Oregon man states that Sheela is “the closest thing to Hitler that I have ever seen in my life, and I have seen the people coming out of Buchenwald and I’ve seen them come out of Dachau. The only thing she don’t have yet is the ovens”. Later in the episode another towns-person says that they’ve got “a concentration camp up there” in reference to the town the followers of the Bhagwan had built.

There is no doubt that Sheela committed crimes, and in fact she went to prison for them eventually. Unfortunately, this is an example of someone using the Holocaust and Hitler of the “ultimate evil” in order to evoke a specific feeling because there was no evidence that there were Holocaust-like activities happening in the camp. Although this occurred shortly after the Jonestown massacre, there were virtually no similarities between the two communities. Of all Sheela’s crimes, mass murder was never among them.

Gal Gadot At It Again

I was looking for a photo of you all night on my phone but I couldn't find one, so I wanted to ask mom to send me one but she didn't answer..that's the annoying thing about traveling.. There's always something you need that you left back home. And then I got into the car, going to work out with stunts and meetings with PJ for WW, and Katy, my assistant goes "Hi, I found this real sweet video of you and I think your grandpa".. She had no idea today is the holocaust remembrance day, and didn't know I was looking for a photo of him/us all night… I wasn't surprised.. My grandpa is always with me.. That's not the first time he pops out of nowhere.. That's how he used to be.. With his special sense of humor and always there for us. Even though he went thru hell. Lost his ENTIRE family in Auschwitz.. He chose to believe in good. I miss you saba. I love you. And thanks for helping out with finding a photo of us. I've never seen this video before and it made me cry. And as I think of you today, at this very moment of remembrance, which is also a call for all of us to act against discrimination of any kind. Anywhere in the world.

A post shared by Gal Gadot (@gal_gadot) on

I found this once against just scrolling through my Instagram. I noticed it was from April 11th and I assumed it was something about Holocaust Remembrance and was right. I thought it was really sweet and was happy that she played tribute to her Grandpa who was a survivor of Auschwitz. It is crazy to me how it is just her Grandpa, that would make her part of the third generation which we have talked a lot about. She is the only person that I have seen on my Instagram even to simply address anything related to the Holocaust and I think it is really cool that she does even now that she is such a huge movie star.

I think the only thing I found a little problematic is that she is comparing it to every type of discrimination. I know she is trying to send out a positive message, but the Holocaust was a lot more than discrimination. She is kind of trying to make it more universal which we have talked a lot about in class, which has never been my favorite thing. This was not that problematic though. I think it is really important for people that a majority of the population knows to talk about issues like this. I would have never known that she came from a family of a survivor and I thought it was really cool honestly. Even famous people have connections to this and I think that its awesome that she is bringing attention to it and still remembering it today.

Seth Meyer Talks about Second Child’s Namesake

On Monday’s show of Late night with Seth Meyers, Meyers told the story of the birth of his second son Axel. The beginning of the clip starts with the hilarious story of his wife, Alexi Ashe, giving birth in the lobby of their apartment. The end of the video is the story of where the middle name of their son came from.

Axel Meyers’ middle name is a maternal family name. It is the last name of  Ashe’s grandparents. Her grandparents met the day after liberation. Both had been Holocaust survivors in Austria.

Seth Meyers continues with thanking them for working hard to survive, and all they had to go through for them to survive, because if Ashe’s grandparents had not survived and met each other, Meyers posits, teary eyed, that he would not have a family.

The timing of the birth of their son Axel and the thanks Meyers gives comes two days before Holocaust Remembrance Day. The whole story is quite funny and ends on a beautiful note. Oftentimes in the world of late night talk shows, the hosts are reluctant to talk about more serious things. As time goes by, it seems that audiences that watch the show crave more genuine conversations, and the hosts seem to be indulging audiences.

Talking about the Holocaust in a popular late night talk show is a risky move, especially given that talk shows are run by comedians. Meyers did a nice job of touching on the Holocaust and acknowledging the hardships that survivors go through. His remembering was not revisionist, nor universalizing. He gave thanks and honored Ashe’s family by giving the family name to his son.

Read about it here, watch the video here

Film about the Publishing of Anne Frank Diary

News came out this week that the director of Handmaiden’s Tale, Reed Morano, has gotten the rights to make a movie about Otto Franks experience of getting Anne Frank’s Diary published.

The movie script was bought up in a spec sale. A spec scale in Hollywood is when a script is made before it is bought by a media company. Fox Searchlight reportedly paid six figures for the script, which is one of the most expansive amounts paid this year on a spec script by Fox Searchlight. This shows how popular any story relating to Anne Frank is still a hot commodity in pop culture, especially movies. Even though this script is about Otto Frank’s attempt at publishing Anne Frank’s diary, it just goes to show that the Frank family holds a special place in Holocaust pop culture. This script offers a different take on Anne Frank by taking place after her death, but Otto Frank’s attempt at memorializing her life by having the diary published.

The movie is directed by Reed Morano, a women who has won awards for her directing of Handmaiden’s Tale.  Handmaiden’s Tale is excellently made, it has a lot of nuance, showing that the Handmaidens are more than victims. Even though Morano has done a good job with Handmaiden’s Tale, it does not mean that she will do a nuanced job with a nonfiction story, especially one as serious as Otto and Anne Frank’s. This movie will hopefully have a fresher take on the Anne Frank story, one that has been told multiple times in many different ways. This movie has a lot of potential of showing the serious nature of memorializing victims of the Holocaust. It may also talk about how Anne Frank and her family died after they left the Secret Annex.

Read about the script and movie

here

and here 

 

 

Student Protestor for Gun Restriction Compared to Hitler

On March 26, The New York Post posted an article about Anthony Testaverde comparing a Stoneman Douglas High School student, David Hogg to Hitler and the Nazi Party. This comparison was made as Hogg was captured during the March for our Lives protest in Washington DC holding his right fist up. Testaverde placed this image next to one of Hitler, followingwith Hogg wearing a black memorial band around his arm. This photo is paralleled with a photo of a Nazi armband. The caption of his photo reads “The Democrats are doing Exactly what Hitler did . . He used the Youth todisarm and Control the People This is scary!” His comments and photo have received lots of criticism, but Testaverde has continued to justify his statement.

Recently, comparing the government to the Holocaust has been very prevalent. People continue to compare Trump to Hitler as he speaks out about hating different ethnicities, religions and races. Most of these comparisons come from the far left. I find it surprising as this comparison is the first one I’ve seen by the far right, accusing the Democratic party as being similar to Hitler’s regime. In addition, many political movements often resort to comparing their situation to the Holocaust, making quick comparisons that undermine the importance of their agenda and that of Holocaust history. I find this very problematic as gun control is nowhere near the severity of targeting and attempting to eliminate a culture. While those against gun control have every right to voice their opinions, using Hitler as a way to instill fear in the minds of citizens is not a good way of doing it.

Link to article: https://nypost.com/2018/03/26/state-senators-aide-compared-student-protester-to-hitler/