Good afternoon! *raises margarita glass*
Before you ask...no, I really don't actually care about the World Cup. Happens that I'm married to a Dutch dude, so of course we're watching today (and tomorrow)...
...and congratulations in advance to Germany...
...which happens to be what I want to write about. No, not the fact that I think Germany is going to win this year's World Cup. And not really about Germany itself (my daughter just returned from her Germany tour last week, so I could write about that if I wanted to...but no). Really, I want to write about a conversation that transpired on my facebook wall after Germany eviscerated Brazil.
I had shared Ricky Gervais' status, which was "This won't be the first time that thousands of Germans will have to lie low in Brazil for a while for their own safety." I laughed, thought nothing of it, really...and had, honestly, a couple of snarky-jokey thoughts about the German team during the game against Brazil. Who didn't?!
What I didn't expect was an old friend of mine to get persnickety about it on my wall.
(NOTE: I am going to say -- right here, right now -- this old friend of mine is someone I enjoy tremendously and respect highly, so my discussion of this topic here today is in no way a criticism of him personally. I just want to make that very clear right up front.)
That being said, I got extreeeeemely snarky and sarcastic with him, to the point of likely offensiveness. You know, the way you can only get with people who've known you long enough to not actually (hopefully) get offended at offensive-level snark. I didn't follow up with him to find out, though, so he may well have been offended. I'm not sure.
So...why did I get snarky? Because boiled down, I was informed that if I'm not bothered by "anti-German" (really "anti-Nazi") joking, then I should not be bothered by anti-Semitic joking/commentary.
REALLY?!?! There were quite a number of things I wanted to respond to that with...staring with "Have you really thought that idiotic comment all the way through?" But, as I said, this is a friend of mine, so I wasn't going to be insulting like that.
To flesh out (just a bit) how it got to the point of being told that I shouldn't be bothered by anti-Semitic joking/commentary, I was first told this:
"More accurately, wasn't it Argentina and Peru? Evita Peron and her dictator husband were Nazis through that entire era. They actively supported hiding these war criminals. Brazil is only the go-to place for surface humor.
Additionally, I know it's a gervais-joke, but its a shame the modern german people have to continue to be reminded and persecuted with ridicule and disdain, when their modern society is about as anti-nazi, compassionate and peace-serving as it gets."
Well yeah, I actually already knew that. I also know, just to be clear, that prior to the U.S. entering WWII a HUGE portion of the American population was also sympathetic to Hitler and the Nazis...there was quite a lot of support for fascism (and a shared hatred of Communism). Further, I didn't feel like getting into the fact of modern history that my friend and I have both lived through with the bringing down of the wall...and the fact of young East Germans...many of whom, through no fault of their own honestly, harbor plenty of anti-Semitism. And commenting to that fact takes nothing away from those who do not harbor those sentiments...or the fact that modernday Germany has taken strong measures to make right, given the abominable history connected with WWII and the slaughter of millions of Jews (among others). None of that is really the point. It was a joke...a well-timed joke...and was not, in any way "anti-German." It's the fucking World Cup, for gawdsake, and in that context, the German team is pretty much hated worldwide. Not a huge secret, actually. That joke, coming from a Brit no less, was funny...and not any sort of disparagement against Germany as a country or as a people.
BUT...if we MUST treat that joke in a way like, "Oh...too soon?" -- let's take the lack of logic a bit further, and ask the necessary questions...you know, connect the dots.
Here...in this country (*cough* U.S. of fuckin' A... *cough*) -- we have VERY similar jokes. Like this one:
(dunno who created this meme)
or this one:
(picked up from here)
Setting aside the history lesson I was given, let's do a find-and-replace of the second part of the comment above from my friend:
"its a shame the modern american people have to continue to be reminded and persecuted with ridicule and disdain, when their modern society is about as anti-genocidal/anti-slavery [respectively, given the above two images], compassionate and peace-serving as it gets."
But somehow, a joke about Germans...in context with South American countries (given the World Cup) is somehow off-limits because Germany's modern society is peace-serving and anti-Nazi? To be clear, I get my friend's point, and I sympathize -to a point- with what he pointed out. I understand what he was driving at, the thrust of his reasoning. But only to a point. I get about sick and tired of attempts at justifying equalizing unequal things.
Meaning, I could have (and did) point out that I am a quarter German (by heritage and birthright), and it's not just a "few" German friends I speak to when I point out that we're talking about a significant portion of my own heritage that I am laughing with (and of course I got criticized for pointing that out) -- but I also pointed out...where my snark came out fully, with claws (and only after getting told "Thanks for the lecture.", which brought my bitch face out with a fucking quickness):
"...it wasn't millions of Jews gassed, now was it?"
And, of course, that shut the conversation the fuck down...as it had to.
I chose to simply shut it down with extremely sarcastic shorthand because I didn't honestly feel like saying all that I could have in that particular moment. I get exhausted from (mostly politely) pointing out flaws in debates on topics that I'm extremely passionate about...I didn't feel like having to take the time right then to point out the most obvious flaw in my friend's assertion. Partly because he is my friend...and partly because I get irritated with the thin-skinned nature of political correctness in so many Americans -- even when their hearts are in the right place. And in my friend's case? His heart was certainly in the right place. His head just wasn't connecting with it in that moment...
...because, see...when a joke is made about what amounts to a dominant population, any defense of that population is ridiculous on its face. Most of us who identify as feminists (female AND male) don't get "offended" by the jokes about our ludicrous right-wing, white, male politicians who say ridiculously stupid things that are...long-term and long-standing...harmful to women. We don't need white men we know to say things like #notallmen in response. Why? Because we fucking know not all men are like that. We also know that in this particular context, women are the affected, marginalized population.
Most of us on "this side" of the political table aren't offended by Teabagger jokes, while we recognize equally that not all older, white, conservative people are members of the Tea Party...and that what the Tea Party actually represents on the whole has a long-term and long-standing harmful (and historical) impact on minorities, LGBT folks, women, etc. We joke about FauxNews for the very reasons I posted the above images, because DUH...
The same premise applies when an English man cracks a joke about the German team that is reflective of an identifiable part of, frankly modern history...and I pointed out in that conversation that, honestly, the ENTIRE WORLD needs the ever-present reminder about the Holocaust and the reality of anti-Semitism in the world today...including Germany. Including the United States. Including the whole fucking world...
...but do not fucking try to tell me that it's a shame of any sort that modern day anyone (in this case Germans) need reminders of their own history. Because I'm going to point out the American hypocrisy of such an idiotic statement, given our own history...and the very people who get defensive about reminders of said history...and why they get defensive.
Or...I'm going to say something along the lines of: "Lighten the fuck up. It was a joke."
Anyway, yeah...we'll be watching the last two games of the World Cup this weekend, and I'm already congratulating Germany. I hate that I'm congratulating Germany, because I wanted to see the Netherlands win...not because I give a fuck about soccer, but because I know it'd make my Dutch husband and his family very happy. And hating knowing that I'm going to congratulate Germany is not...*take a wild guess*...about actually hating Germany or Germans.
I know. SHOCKING. It's about a fucking game.
Anyway...Happy Saturday! Go sports!