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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Ironic, crass, stark reminder, reclaiming imagery? You decide

Courtesy of Eric Muller, who has thought (and written about) the experience of the Holocaust, is this web site selling this shirt (and others) to mark Yom Ha'Shoah. The shirts purport to be a statement of memory and solidarity.


Ironic? Crass? Offensive? Stark and meaningful reminder? Show of solidarity? Reclaiming of hateful imagery? Something else?

Posted by Howard Wasserman on January 24, 2012 at 10:23 PM in Culture, Howard Wasserman | Permalink


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Crass and disgustingly offensive. A commercialization of the most systematic genocide in history.

Posted by: AnonProf | Jan 25, 2012 1:00:44 PM

Hi Howard,

The very idea of this t-shirt bothers me. It conjures up memories of relatives who were persecuted and ultimately perished in the Holocaust via their identification as Jews (which is what the mandatory yellow star was intended to designate to all). While it is important to remember the Holocaust, this is not a positive way to do it.

While this may not be as offensive as copying the number tattoos concentration camp prisoners had imprinted on their arms, it is, to me, an inappropriate way of making a positive statement about Jewish identity. Being proud to be a Jew can be done in more tasteful ways, even on a kitschy t-shirt -- perhaps "Kiss me, I'm Jewish"?

If the point is to thumb one's nose at the Holocaust, look instead to the "Hitler rant" YouTube parodies or the old series Hogan's Heroes that depicted the Nazis as morons. Those ridicule the oppressors, they don't commemorate their oppression of millions of innocent people as the yellow star does.

Anyway, that's my opinion.


Posted by: Len Rotman | Jan 25, 2012 11:49:49 AM

I don't like to judge other people's way of handling tragedies. But surely this is not something an actual survivor would be wearing, so I feel more comfortable passing judgment on those who do. The only redeeming feature I can see is that it allows people to show they are remembering and thereby become part of a community of remembrance that may extend beyond a community of Jewish people. But I think it's crass. I suppose now that every policy anyone disagrees with is likened to policies in Nazi Germany as a matter of course, this sort of shallow, passing reference is inevitable. But it's not a fitting tribute or reminder. Maybe it's like posting your bra color on facebook to show your opposition to breast cancer, and any acknowledgment should be celebrated. (Though I'm not convinced on that one either; I'm just more hesitant to judge, because those choosing to post are more likely less-removed from cancer's reach. And as I said above, people should find comfort from their own tragedies where and how they can.) But I am offended. It turned my stomach. It also made me think about the Holocaust. But it wouldn't make me feel closer to the wearer.

Posted by: anon | Jan 25, 2012 10:58:43 AM

The Holocaust went from lived experience, to moral example, to browbeating tool, and as hipster irony continues to tear down such outmoded formalisms, crass pop icon.

Posted by: AndyK | Jan 25, 2012 9:18:52 AM

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