Same Hate, Different Form: Is a Joke Just a Joke?

By: Tania Bohbot  |  October 16, 2018
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By Tania Bohbot

Big Nose. Nickel Nose. Christ Killer. German Candle. Goldie. These are just some of the dozens of slurs a Jew has had to brush off or confront at one point or another. They have been screamed, tagged on the walls of cities, and even posted online for the world to see. Today, anti-Semitism is seen loudly in Neo-Nazis disguising themselves as white supremacists and nationalists. They walk through the streets declaring themselves as patriots, but while watching the ones who make the loud noise, do we ignore the passive aggressive anti-Semites who are using media as a weapon?

On August 30, many saw that their most trusted social media app’s map feature had relabeled New York City as “Jewtropolis.” “Jewtropolis” popped up on apps such as Snapchat, StreetEasy, CitiBike, the Weather Channel, and many more. All these applications have in common the use of the mapping software Mapbox. Used by over 400 million people, the anti-Semitic renaming of NYC as ‘‘Jewtropolis’’ managed to make its way into the system for several hours before being rectified.

Is “Jewtropolis” a laughing matter? When first reading that NYC had been replaced with the name “Jewtropolis”, I laughed. Who cares? It’s funny why not see it as just a ridiculous joke? Some might say that there was too much focus placed upon the practical joke, and the best thing one could do is to just ignore it; don’t give power to the anti-Semite who clearly craves it.

However, is it even more dangerous to ignore these anti-Semites than to acknowledge what they’ve done?

When World War II ended and the horrors of the Holocaust were revealed, reactions were not completely sympathetic. Instead of focusing fully on the horrors that the Nazis plagued the Jewish people with, someincluding Zionists and other Jewswondered how they could have let it go as far as it did. “How could you not see it coming? When they made you wear the yellow stars and forced you into the ghettos, why did you follow like sheep?” were the criticisms made against the Jewish people who had suffered so tremendously.

Today, we hear and see these anti-Semitic slurs and think of them as nothing. It was probably just a bored twelve-year-old who graffitied that swastika onto the wall. Oh, these anti-Semitic people who throw around insults and walk around with swastikas won’t do a thing. We stand by and read reports of Holocaust survivors being murdered in their homes as if it is just another day.

Worst of all, we make the same jokes. It may just be as small as poking fun at each others’ noses, or it could be as grotesque as making jokes about the Holocaust itself. Someone reading this may roll his eyes and say that it should not be taken so seriously. Another would say that a Jew can not afford not to joke; history is too painful to not be able to joke about it. That might be true. However, as valid as it may be, are we then just letting others believe it is okay to make the same joke? Could you look at someone whose been given the worst that anti-Semitism has to offer and still make that same joke? It was just last year that hundreds of Neo-Nazis under the guise of white nationalists marched the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, where they raised the Nazi flag. Today, open anti-Semite, Jeremy Corbyn of the Labour Party, threatens to be Britain’s next Prime Minister. Tomorrow a child will be going to school to face the harshness of being bullied over his or her personal religious beliefs.

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