You may have seen the controversial photos released this past week: patrons of a German restaurant in Minnesota decked out in SS Guard uniforms; Harel High School students in Mevasseret Tzion parading in Klansmen “glorysuits” before an Ethiopian absorption center.
Whereas the local city council did nothing official to condemn the high school students who on Purim masqueraded as members of the KKK for such an egregious display of racism, a group of local Minnesotans banded together to express their disappointment and hurt at the Minneapolis restaurant’s shocking display of insensitivity in hosting the now-notorious annual “Nazi Party.”
Some background: For the past six years, a group from the WWII Historical Re-Enactment Society has gathered annually at Gasthof Zur Gemütlichk
In response to the now-notorious annual “Nazi Party,” Susan Schwaidelson Siegfried threw down the gauntlet on her personal blog, calling upon anyone else interested in protesting the event to contact her. One of the people who teamed up with Siegfied was my friend Margie Newman, a Jewish writer based in St. Paul, who helped her organize a silent “deportation flash mob” in front of the restaurant.
“As the daughter of a survivor, I knew I had to respond in some way,” Newman explained. Indeed, the organizers of the deportation flash mob felt strongly about remembering and honoring the victims of the Holocaust to counter the shocking “Nazi party” images.
The silent protestors encountered resistance from the Gasthof zur Gemütlichkeit’s security staff. Within minutes of the flash mob, tow trucks pulled up to remove vehicles of the assembled crowd and the journalists on the scene.
The folks in Mevasseret Tzion should take a cue from the courageous group in Minnesota, which included both Jews and non-Jews, who took an active stance against such insensitivity for the plight of victims of bigotry and senseless hatred.
Despite reports last week indicating that the city council of Mevasseret Tzion was expected to condemn the students who dressed up as the KKK, the city council ultimately voted against condemning the high school students’ actions. The sole dissenting voice was that of American-born Absorption Committee member Jeremy Saltan.
In discussion with friends about both situations, the question of post-irony repeatedly surfaced. In both cases, it remains unclear to me what
exactly motivated the Minnesotan WWII “reenactment” group who hosted the Nazi fete or the Mevasseret Tzion children cloaked in Klansman garb (and/or their parents, for that matter), but I cannot accept the post-irony argument as a valid “out” in these cases. When we live in a time when the hateful principles for which white supremacy stands are still painfully real and dangerous, the post-irony trump card rings hollow.
Perhaps the most pressing question truly is: do you ever want to be caught looking like Great Britain’s Prince Harry?