A fine line exists between humor, bad taste, and stereotyping. Obviously Belgium has difficulty deciphering between all three. Whether “innocent” humor (as we are led to believe) or not, the recent Carnival float in Aalst, Belgium was beyond stupid, it was downright offensive. The group that came up with this “humor” was De Vismooil’n. Their twisted explanation was to economize on this year’s float and save for next year’s. Whatever that means. They are still in a mental fog as to the uproar. As Forrest Gump would say: “Stupid is as stupid does.”
The insidiousness below De Vismooil’n”s intentions is as slimy as a frog in hand. Before getting into the implications of this display, I really want to bring home a realization that had they put pink Imams on the float, they would certainly have a “Jihad” on their hands and we would not be having this conversation. Remember Charlie Hebdo in Paris? So I ask; why are Jews and Christians open season to humor? Why do we give immunity to the likes of De Vismooil’n? Possibly because it is relatively safe to offend Jews and Christians? I do not recall any Christian or Jewish groups threatening a “Jihad” at offensive material, art, or even minute innuendo. And if they do get upset, I have no recollection of mass violence. To remain unbiased, I must disclose that according to De Vismooil’n, they allegedly received death threats and had to go to the police. They never elaborated on who allegedly sent the threats and to what end.
The problem runs deeper than an inane float. Anti-Semitism has found fertile ground in the far left political and intellectual elite sector. It started subtly with criticism of Israel which eventually turned into blatant condemnation. The fact that our mainstream media is now also predominantly left wing, makes it easier for those who were otherwise closet bigots to come out in droves. When major parties condone deliberate anti-Semitic rhetoric, we have more than an irritation, we have a social grass roots problem.
Jeremy Corbyn is still the leader of the UK Labor Party albeit the fact that not one day goes by without an anti-Semite remark. Some members of his party have defected, but not enough to make a difference. Complaints and pseudo public outrage have done very little to curtail his mouth or his party. He is still in power and his party is still strong. Theresa May can’t control him and neither can the House of Commons. British upper lip and high tea politeness has done very little to sanction him. He has a following. Across the great pond things aren’t any better.
The Democrats in the US Congress have their own anti-Semite darling. They too are having a “problem” with a junior Congress woman from Minnesota; Ilhan Omar. Senior members of Congress and the Democratic party shake in their boots when it comes to Ms. Omar. She defies them. Their feeble attempt at passing an anti-Semite bill went sideways because they did not want to seem Islam phobic against the first Muslim congress member. They can’t even send her to her room without dessert. They seem to be okay with her continual belittling of Israel, Jews, and sympathizers to both. Even the Speaker of the House, Ms. Pelosi seems to stutter (more than usual) when it comes to discussing Ms. Omar. She had the gall or banality to say that Ms. Omar’s latest poignant remark about dual loyalty, was not “based on any anti-Semitic attitude”. Ms. Pelosi needs to stop drinking the Kool Aid. Once a staunch supporter of Israel, the US Congress led by Democrats seems to be capitulating to the far left wing hatred of the country. By the way; 75% of American Jews historically vote Democrat. How is that going to play out in the 2020 elections?
Europe has seen a surge of anti-Semitism not evident since pre Nazi Germany. Perpetrators are emboldened by conspiracy theories akin to the 1930’s when Jews were blamed for anything from inflation to unemployment. France has seen a 74% rise in anti-Semite attacks and hatred speech. In February of this year, swastikas were scribbled on commemorative photos of Holocaust survivor Simone Veil. Trees planted in memory of Ilan Halimi, a 23 year old Moroccan Jew who was tortured to death in 2006 in Paris, were uprooted and vandalized. And the list goes on. The narrative that Jews control banks and politics has spread on both sides of the Atlantic without any major attempt to curtail it. Hatred of Jews is the common racist thread that binds the far left and the far right. For one exception: the far right white supremacist thugs keep their warped bigot and racist ideology in the open. The far left is more sophisticated and insidious. It touts and hides behind a benevolent and tolerant defensive agenda that protects selective groups. It has no difficulty protecting gays, women (only liberal and socialists), illegal immigrants, minorities (very selectively black or Hispanic), atheists, and of course the inevitable “Palestinian” causes. It has qualms protecting the unborn, Christians, and Jews. The BDS movement on worldwide campuses continues to spread their false rhetoric that being anti-Israel and anti-Zionist is not anti-Jewish. The next generation of anti-Semites born and bred in elite intellectual halls of learning.
So why are we surprised about Belgium? More to the sordid story is unfolding as Jewish groups and organizations protest and decry with outrage blatant stereotyping and intentional bad humor at the expense of Jews. Aalst Mayor Christoph D’Haese seems unperturbed by it all. He conveniently removed himself quietly and slid away pleading indifference. According to this pinhead, it is not up to him to forbid any float or subject matter at Carnival. It is all in good fun. He stands by his idiotic notion that De Vismooil’n had “no sinister intensions”. Sounds familiar? He must have read Nancy Pelosi’s talking points. Mr. S’Haese, tell us, how sinister does it have to get for you to take notice? In 2013, another group without “sinister intensions” designed a similar float that resembled a Nazi railway wagon akin to those used to deport Jews to death camps. Members of this group known as the FTP marched by the float dressed in SS uniforms and as Haredi Jews. To embellish the bizarre and evil even more, a poster featuring Flemish politicians dressed as Nazis and holding canisters of Zyklon B (the gas used in the death camps), was placed prominently on the float. Obviously that was not “sinister” enough for either Mr. S’Haese or the rest of the world.
Adding insult to injury; in 2010 Aalst was on the UNESCO Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage. At least UNESCO had the decency and sense to condemn the 2013 Nazi float and display. But UNESCO is another hypocritical UN body that subtly encourages the current political climate against Israel. On several occasions UNESCO has used its World Heritage mantra to modify Jewish holy sites and recognize them by their Muslim names. Sites like Hebron’s Old City and the Tomb of the Patriarchs were inscribed to the “state of Palestine”. Israel and the US have finally agreed to resign from UNESCO membership. Amen. As of this blog, UNESCO has yet to make a comment or condemn this year’s Aalst float. Surprised?
De Vismooil’s blasé explanation is dumbfounding. The group’s representative remains adamant that their aim was to illustrate life as becoming more expensive. Their best attempt was pink Haredi Jews with large noses sitting on money bags. According to these goofs, they allegedly did not mean “to make the Jewish faith ridiculous.” I guess they only meant to make Jews look ridiculous. They went as far as to call the entire theme “Shabbat Year.” A quasi comical dumb play on “sabbatical.” Taking time off. Wish for the sake of all of us they had just done that.