I confess that I agree with CiF contributor Naomi Alderman‘s argument in “Hitler video shouldn’t have caused Tom Harris’s downfall“, Jan. 18.
Alderman makes the case that Tom Harris, MP for Glasgow South, shouldn’t have had to step down from his role as Labour’s new media adviser simply “because he made a spoof video, taking a scene from the movie Downfall and resubtitling it as if Hitler having a hissy fit in his führerbunker were Alex Salmond, leader of the SNP, losing his rag.”
As anyone familiar with the genre of Downfall spoofs surely knows, there’s nothing even remotely antisemitic, or pro-Nazi, about such videos, which use a scene in the film, in which Hitler (played by Bruno Ganz) launches into a furious tirade upon realizing that the war is truly lost. In these videos, the original audio of Ganz’s voice is retained, but new subtitles are added so that he seems to be reacting instead to some setback in present-day politics, sports, popular culture, or everyday life.
However, while Alderman is correct when she observes that such videos are consistent with “a grand tradition of mocking Hitler” (starting with Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator in 1940), a subsequent passage stands out as both facile and painfully banal.
Alderman, commenting on the dangers of a culture which doesn’t allow for such mockery of Hitler, notes:
Jews have always known that the greatest weapon against oppression and tyranny is laughter.
First, yes, I’ve often acknowledged my gallows humor in the face of antisemitic tropes at the Guardian and ‘Comment is Free’ – the only thing philosemites and Zionists can do to keep themselves sane in the face of a media group so viscerally hostile to the Jewish state.
And, no doubt, a history of dealing with the moral absurdities of their enemies’ malign obsession has served as a creative muse for quite a bit of Jewish humor.
But, the Jews’ often highly developed sense of irony as “the greatest weapon against [antisemitic] oppression”?
I’d humbly suggest that other less cerebral tools have also likely played a role in defending against antisemitic onslaughts.
Perhaps this is just my Zionist militancy talking, but I’m sure those Jews involved in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, WWII Partisan Groups, the Haganah, and soldiers who serve in the army of the modern Jewish state all – while, no doubt, maintaining a wry wit – likely also benefited from, you know, weaponry, ammunition, and the will to fight.
However, as this is a blog, and not a combat unit, and thus dedicated to the supremacy of the pen over the sword, I hereby rededicate myself to employing unmerciful and simply ruthless wit, satire, (and, of course, good old-fashioned Schadenfreude) in our cognitive war against the anti-Zionist low-hanging fruit known as the Guardian.
Let the mockery begin!