I guess it’s time to weigh in on Drumpf…

I think that, as of today, I have seen more than a dozen items from various media outlets pondering whether Donald J Drumpf is a fascist.

Here’s one.  And another.  And another.  OK, that’s enough.  Google it for yourself, lazy bones…

My twitter stream nearly melted down after images from a March 5 Drumpf rally in Florida showed Drumpf supporters offering a quasi-fascist salute.  Now, to be fair, these folks weren’t saluting Drumpf.  Drumpf asked the good people of Florida in attendance to pledge to vote on Primary Day.   But it’s how he asked them to do it that evoked memories of a certain European regime.

And depending on your checklist, be it from Umberto Eco or the Holocaust reader I’m using in my Grade 12 Jewish history class, Drumpf either falls short or fits the definition of FASCIST. <Cue ominous music.>

[If you really want some historical perspective (or more wood to stoke the fires of hysteria), check out this news item from November 1922, the first time the New York Times reported on a Bavarian hothead named Adolf Hitler.]

My issue with Drumpf is different.  And it has everything to do with his campaign and the “heart and soul” of the Republican party.  Drumpf is portrayed as “not a true conservative” by the GOP establishment in an attempt to distance the party from Drumpf’s racism, xenophobia, misogyny, contempt for a free press and obsession with his hands-to-schvantz proportion.  As if, mainstream GOP bobbleheads assert, the GOP is not racist, xenophobic, misogynistic, hostile to the fifth estate or obsessed with Drumpf’s shmeckel.

But here’s the thing… not only is Drumpf all those things (and more), so, too, is the GOP.   One need not catalogue here how mainstream Republicans have touted ideas like “self-deportation“, mosque closures,  or denying women access to reproductive health care under the guise of protecting “women’s health” to acknowledge that Drumpf’s positions are only extreme in the degree of outrageousness, but not their intent.

[See what I did there?  It’s called paralipsis… the device of giving emphasis by professing to say little or nothing about a subject… hee hee.]

In other words, Drumpf is just the GOP “talking straight” on steroids.   And the message is unmistakeable.


The Force Awakens, Nine Days Later

3562106I didn’t see Star Wars: The Force Awakens until today.

I admit that I had very high expectations for this film, and not only because I have been waiting since 1980 for some sanity to return to the franchise.  (No, that’s not a typo.  I have been waiting since the release of The Empire Strikes Back.  I thought Return of the Jedi, though not terrible, to be slightly anticlimactic after Empire.)

So after sitting through a half dozen product placement ads, including one for Light Side and Dark Side cosmetics by Revlon (?!) and some weak previews for movies that would most assuredly NOT appeal to the typical Star Wars demographic, I finally donned my 3D glasses and awaited the Force’s Awakening.

Two hours later, I emerged relatively unscathed.  (This was not the case, BTW, after I stumbled out of the theatre post-The Phantom Menace.)  SW:TFA did not disappoint nor did it particularly impress.

What I did experience was the odd feeling that I had seen this movie before.

And then I realized:  I have seen this movie before.  It was called Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back.

I could break down how J.J. Abrams, Lawrence Kasdan, and Michael Arndt cribbed pretty much every essential plot point from the first two thirds of the Original Trilogy… but I won’t.

Cribbing, in itself, is not a cardinal sin considering, as Aaron Bady observed:

The one thing the original trilogy wasn’t was original. Similarly, The Force Awakens is great, but it isn’t interesting. The jokes are good, the action is organic and compelling, the characters are well inhabited by competent actors, and the cinematography and music is excellent and consistently inventive. But everything that puts you in the moment, when you’re watching it, falls apart as soon as you turn your brain back on. As experience, as ritualistic performance, as society-wide holiday, and as entertainment-industrial-complex, Star Wars is a strange and magnificent and disgusting enterprise. As original story, it’s total crap.

As a seven year old in 1977, I did not mind that Star Wars referenced (among others) Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Metropolis, Akira Kurosawa and the 1954 British film The Dam Busters.  I wasn’t aware enough to mind.  ⌘C + ⌘V  for The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi.

And I wouldn’t have minded terribly if Abrams had cribbed for SW:TFA.  I would have loved to see how he would have weaved together snippets from, say, Yojimbo or stylistic nods to Sam Peckinpah or allusions to SOMETHING ELSE besides George Lucas.  But, alas, he did not.  Abrams, too, succumbed to the Dark Side of franchise film making as he did with Star Trek

Shameless fan service!


The Shoah has officially tipped…

…with the release of a clip by Lil Dicky, a 20-something Jewish rapper, having a digitally-manipulated throwdown rap battle with Hitler among other Nazi-slammin’ hijinks, all while rocking a hook with the following lyrics:

Dicky spit that Jewish flow
Lil Dicky spit that Jewish flow
Sicker than the holocaust
Dat muthaf*ckin jewish flow
That third reich raw
Concentration camp cold
Now we rollin in that mothaf*ckin dough
Das dat Jewish flow
Dicky spit that Jewish flow
Lil Dicky spit that Jewish flow
Sicker than the holocaust
Dat muthaf*ckin jewish flow
That Auschwitz sick, gas chamber kinda sh*t
Now I got german b*tches all up on ma d*ck
Das dat jewish flow.

ck got mad love for Lil’ Dicky for the:

most outrageous, hilariously ass kicking, offensive, stupid and inspiring lyrics I have heard from a Jew in a long time…

I am a fan, if you can call me that, for a different reason, one intimated in the title of this post.

Lil’ Dicky’s raunchy ridiculousness has made explicit what folks have been “doing” to the Shoah since it ended almost 70 years ago – making a mockery of it through cheap manipulation of its imagery, its “message” and its “meaning” for political purposes.

If everything is like the Shoah and everyone is like Hitler or the Nazis (see Godwin’s Law), then, well, what is the Shoah then?

I am gladdened by Lil’ Dicky’s seemingly outrageous sacrilege because he has not done anything more inappropriate than this guy:

“Ketchup is the Auschwitz of the tomatoes” – this was the comment of the chairman of the Organization of Tomato Growers in the Jordan Valley, in a speech he delivered at a stormy demonstration held by the tomato growers at the Knesset over the demand to increase the minimal amount of tomatoes that must be used for ketchup. Afterward, the chairman issued an explanation and an apology:

“First of all, I did not compare the Holocaust with ketchup. I said it’s like the Holocaust, meaning in the sense of what a disaster it is. And second of all, I am the grandson of Holocaust survivors, so it is inconceivable that I would belittle the Holocaust.

And third, if anyone has the right to belittle the Holocaust, it’s me, because I am a grandson of Holocaust survivors.

“But I am not comparing, I am not comparing – how can you compare? It was terrible, the Holocaust, it was absolutely terrible. And besides, what’s everyone attacking me for? What is this, the Gestapo?”

– Uzi Weil, The Back Page, Ha’ir

Oh, by the way, that story is a joke.  Uzi Weil is a satirist, but, man, it sounded legit, didn’t it?  Sad but true.

Or these Ultra-Orthodox kids (?!) dressed up by their parents to protest whatever they were wound up about in January of 2012… something to do with how the refusal of mainstream Israelis to separate men from women in the public sphere was like the Shoah…  does that even make sense?

2349077637This, sadly, is not satire.  It is an actual picture from an actual demonstration.  And it upset many Shoah survivors and political leaders and prompted the proposal of a law to ban such displays of symbols (which aroused protest from free-speech advocates… see what happens when you start tugging on a thread?)

If Lil’ Dicky can somehow get these folks to stop doing this by making any and all comparisons, appropriations, references or allusions to the Shoah so gauche and reminiscent of his over-the-top clip, then all I can say it should be b’sha’ah tovah u’mevurekhet – in a good and blessed hour.

But I doubt it.  Sigh.



Kotel caption contest

image06This photograph was taken this morning, during Rosh Chodesh prayers at the Kotel.

Women of the Wall were there and were kept very far from the Women’s Section and the Kotel by police.  The cited reason: security concerns.

It seems that since ultra-Orthodox girls’ seminaries are on summer break, and the girls had been ordered by their rabbis to arrive at the Kotel at 6:30am, the women’s section was overflowing even before the Women of the Wall service was scheduled to start.

Here are some captions to get the ball rolling…

“Whistle if you love sin’at chinam!”

“Egg-tossing, unnecessary roughness on the defense.  The penalty is declined.  First down!”