We're used to all sorts of crazy trends coming out of the world of pop culture, but the most recent one is incredibly alarming. What kind of world do we live in where anti-Semitism is not only acceptable, but the flavor of the moment?
It seems like, suddenly, we're deluged with stories about stars and other public figures ranting against Jews and appropriating Nazi signifiers as if this is somehow perfectly OK and, in fact, somewhat cool. There was Charlie Sheen ranting against Jews, John Galliano calling a couple in a Paris bar ugly Jews and talking about his love of Hitler, and Julian Assange blaming his prosecution on some sort of nefarious Jewish witch hunt. Now you can add one more to the list: Japanese pop group Kishidan appeared on MTV Japan this week decked out in Nazi SS uniforms. Even Lady Gaga's most recent video isn't that tone deaf.
I'm not naive enough to think that prejudice against Jews completely ended, but for a very long time, you'd never hear of people doing these sorts of things publicly, and if they did, the backlash would be so swift and furious it would keep others from doing anything similar. These days it seems like anyone with hate in their heart can get fucked up, talk a bunch of shit about the Jews, apologize for it, and go to rehab. Then all is forgiven.
The problem is, the hate doesn't go away. These people never really learn their lesson. They just go back home, put on their Nazi outfits and make sure that next time there isn't anyone around with a camera to release the pictures to the world. The myth is that as time passes, our society becomes more and more tolerant. But as the word "Nazi" becomes even more prevalent in civil discourse, is that really the case?
Let's get one thing straight: Tossing around the word "Nazi" is not cool, and neither is dressing up like someone from the regime. Just ask Prince Harry! And it will never be OK to use the swastika, even ironically. Using these terms or imagery, even to prove a point, always does more harm than good. And if you're trying to use it for a joke, let me clue you in on something: It's not funny.
I hate to be the scold, but don't we all know by now that hating entire groups of people—whether they be Jews, blacks, gays, or anything else (other than Martians, it's still OK to hate aliens)—just won't be tolerated anymore? I guess we don't because people are learning this hate from somewhere, and there are other people around them supporting this hate, and bolstering it with their approval (or silence). Maybe we just need to tell them once again to cut it out, to show them that they're wrong? Maybe one day we can change the tide and finally get to the utopia where everyone is accepted? Maybe we can't. But it's at sad times like this—when anti-Semitism is trending like a black-hearted Bieber on Twitter—that it seems like the only available future.