Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Bad Taste from the Netherlands

Boomerang, a merchant in the Netherlands, has coupled Anne Frank's image with a kaffiah, the Arab headdress which has become a symbol of international terrorism. It's really disgusting.

Thanks to Little Green Footballs for finding this.


Steve Gorelick said...

4:20 AM. I can see why this got you up early, Deborah.

Here is what gets me: In serious scholarship, nothing is beyond critical analysis. In popular culture, free societies give citizens pretty wide room for expression.

But more and more I wonder what happened to the notion of reverence, i.e. the idea that people should be treated and approached with a gentle and respectful humility.

Is it old fashioned to ask whether in the midst of our "no holds barred" culture, people's feelings should be considered when appropriating shared and cherished symbols?

I am all for the rough and tumble and even ugliness of free expression. But what happened to the idea that you at least consider a simple question as you forge ahead:

Am I hurting someone's feelings? Or maybe even a lot of people's feelings?

Probably antiquated.


Dee said...

This is pretty tame compared to the "Huischwitz" dance party ad a Dutch kid made a few years ago, with images from concentration camps and language like, "Attire: skinny and naked." Been here for eight years and sometimes can't believe my ears.

Timbo said...

Umm, sorry - but isn't the kaffiah better known as a symbol of Palestinians generally? So surely the obvious point this cartoon is making is that as the Jews were oppressed in the 30s and 40s so the Palestinians are today.

You can disagree with that position, naturally. But I think you're wildly misinterpreting what the cartoon means.

Josh said...

timbo, I don't think the picture has an "obvious point" --at least, I don't know how to interpret it; and I do find the commercial use of Anne Frank offensive. That said, the idea that an Arab garment in widespread use has become a symbol of international terrorism is new to me and to my Israeli relatives.

Timbo said...

I just showed the image to five reasonably intelligent people in my office and asked them what they thought it was saying. Two didn't recognise the image as being one of Anne Frank, so they had no idea (though one said "Something to do with the Palestinians?") The other three all said "It's making an analogy between the Jews in WWII and the Palestinians".

I'd say that means anyone who recognises Ann Frank and realises who wears keffiahs gets it pretty easily.

None of them saw it as "really disgusting" or that it had anything to do with "terrorism".

Can Deborah explain what is "disgusting" about this image and what she thinks it means. I still say the meaning is pretty bleeding obvious.