Let’s review how B’nai Brith’s Frank Dimant and ol’ Beryl Wajsman reacted to the apology student groups offered following a group of protesters who used the “Nazi” salute in the general direction of Montreal’s finest.
“We condemn, in the strongest of terms, this inexcusable display by Quebec student protesters that has outraged the Jewish community and demonstrated just how low the level of public debate has fallen on the streets of Montreal,” said Frank Dimant, CEO of B’nai Brith Canada in a statement.
And Ol’ Mr. Wajsman.
“We don’t even need an apology from them,” said Beryl Wajsman of the Institute for Public Affairs of Montreal. “This Nazi business is one of two things: if they did it and knew, they’re hateful; and if they didn’t they’re so stupid that any education, free or paid won’t change it.”
Oh Mr. Wajsman! I think most of us thinking people know why you think they’re really hateful to you and “Nazi” salutes have precious little to do with it. In fact, I’m pretty sure you and your right-winged friends would find them hateful if they hadn’t made that gesture. I will explore that later.
Now, Boys ‘n’ girls, let’s hear from Cityprole earlier this week.
Like it or not, the term ‘Nazi’ and the salute made so famous by Hitler’s sheeple has become part of the lexicon..and there isn’t much anyone can do about it..to suggest that anyone who uses either the term or the salute is somehow insulting the memory of Jews is to forget that the power of this WW2 horror is not only alive and well, but needs to be remembered, even if only at second hand..these students meant no disrespect to the memory of the Jews who were imprisoned and murdered, but they did mean to show disrespect to leaders who would manipulate and abuse them for political gain,
Cityprole is of the belief the student groups had no reason to apologize. I agree, it just simply gives an air of “me thinks you doth protest too much”. Besides, as one can see from various commentary from that CTV page I linked to above, they’re not buying the apology.
Now I will probably be labelled an Anti-Semite or ignorant. That’s ok. I can live with that.
Well, boys ‘n’ girls, this is a well overdue post and perhaps I’ve missed the boat time wise, but after reading commentary from English language media, various letters to the Montreal Gazette as well as some folks’ Facebook pages, I feel I must. The Montreal chapter of B’nai Brith, as mentioned above, as well as other Jewish groups were up in arms over this. I have a few questions to those up in arms regarding this, which will come later in this post. They are important questions, because I see a glaring double standard on their part that must be addressed.
First off, those who seem to believe this was an exclusivity to Nazi Germany need a history lesson. It probably won’t seem necessary to many of my readers for different reasons, but I will anyway. After reading some opinion pieces, these people who were offended by that infamous gesture of the right arm being raised shoulder or eye length with palm open, they seem to imply that these protesters were anti-semitic and to force them to admit they are. That couldn’t further from the truth.
That right arm gesture while made famous by Nazi Germany, was certainly not originated by them. It used be known as the “Roman” Salute. It was a symbol of fascism based on custom in Ancient Rome. Although, there doesn’t appear to be any documented evidence of this. Although, the salute was depicted in Jacques-Louis David’s “Oath of Horatii, painted in 1784. That gesture would be seen in other French Neo-classistic paintings.
This salute would continue to be used in popular culture, including the 1914 Italian film, Cabiria by Italian nationalist Gabriele d’Annunzio. By 1923, this salute would be adapted by the Italian fascist regime. It would only be adapted later by Nazi Germany in 1933, ten years after the Italian regime adapted it. In fact, many dictators, like Mao and Stalin have been seen using the salute. All this to say that this salute is not exclusive to Nazis, but rather, to fascism in general.
Speaking of popular culture,
The salute is also depicted in the 1940 Charlie Chaplin spoof of dictators, The Great Dictator, Chaplin’s only speaking film.
Going back to 1892, this very same gesture would be adapted by Americans while reciting the Pledge of Allegiance until well after Nazi Germany adapted it as its’ own. Only then, the gesture would be replaced by what we see today–the hand on heart. The former was known as “The Bellamy Salute”, named after the man who came up with the gesture and wrote (later modified by Congress in 1954 under the encouragement of President Eisenhower) the Pledge of Allegiance, Francis Bellamy, writer, editor, Baptist minister and known to be a Christian Socialist.
That, boys ‘n’ girls, is the brief history lesson on the “Nazi” salute, or as I prefer to call it, the Fascist Salute.
While I can sympathize with Jewish groups saying that the salute represents a terrible past, I have one question, why the double standard? As one letter writer, Kevin Callahan, asks
It is interesting to point out that, over the last four decades, Quebec nationalism has often been compared to Nazism by various commentators. Did B’nai Brith systematically express outrage at these comparisons that also cheapen the real horror of Nazi atrocities? If not, then why the double standard?
Did any Jewish groups get as outraged over Dubya’s pose as they are over the students using the salute last week?
How about the Grand-Prix? As I’ve mentioned in my previous post, Bernie Ecclestone has made incendiary Anti-Semitic remarks. In fact, I’m sure many who are gung-ho and clutching their pearls over Grand-Prix protests were part of Montreal’s Jewish community, including B’nai Brith and of course, Beryl Wajsman. It bears reminding all of what exactly ol’ Hecclestone said about Jews and Hitler, one of his idols, whom he felt didn’t go far enough.
And this greatest hit:
Yes, British Jewish groups condemned him, but I have never heard of any other Jewish group condemn him. Certainly not in Canada, let alone Montreal. Again, why weren’t Jewish groups out protesting the Grand-Prix being in Montreal? Better question, why do so many want it here? No, one cannot separate the Grand-Prix from its’ boss, ol’ Bernie Hecclestone. And yes, your tax dollars to go to that hideous billionaire to hold this sexist event here.
Now, on to ol’ Stevie Spiteful, hisself. He, who was endorsed and cheered by many Jewish groups across Canada, not the least of which those who endorsed Saulie Zajdel in Mount-Royal. Stevie, who was endorsed with gusto by the editors of The Suburban, whose boss is none other than ol’ Beryl Wajsman. Stevie, who was the first Canadian awarded the B’nai Brith Presidential Gold Medallion in 2008.
Oops! Can you say, AWKWARD? Again, I’m hearing crickets from all of those Jewish groups who endorsed ol’ Stevie. Why hasn’t there been any outrage for that? Seriously? Where is the outrage for Hecklestone, Dubya Bush, and Stevie but much pearl clutching over protesters using that salute to mock the riot squad? Because the students are a much easier target? Or is the reason they’re not excused is that they’re not part of the corporate and/or political elite?
For those who say those protesters exaggerated when using the Nazi salute or comparing Johnny-Boy Charest and/or ol’ Stevie Spiteful to dictators, fascists and Nazis because it isn’t nearly as bad as Fascist regimes were/are. Well, let me ask this; how bad does it have to get before everyone wakes up to all of what is happening? When it’s too late and by then, all are too beaten down to even attempt to protest or do anything about it? Like it or not, both our lovely premier and ol’ Stevie Spiteful are getting that ball rolling. What would you call the storm trooping of a St-Denis bar, terrorizing a bunch of patrons on a patio? What would you call bar owner, Domenic Dion being arrested for wearing a red square and/or helping his terrified patrons flea to safety through the back door of his establishment? What would you call stopping and/or arresting anyone wearing a red square (could be black square anytime, denouncing Stevie Spiteful’s monstrous Bill C-38) and demanding to search back packs on the metro? What would you call arresting a girl on a metro for simply reading George Orwell’s 1984? What about a group of young women who were simply at a club to celebrate a Birthday, ticketed because they didn’t run fast enough to the liking of the Riot squad?
Johnny Charest’s Bill 78 basically criminalizes protests and give the cops at whim to do whatever they please. Same for the cops at Toronto’s G-20 protests. The message I receive from both these events is that dissent will be criminalized and Ol’ Vic Toews’ warrantless online spying bill is most certain to catch and give trouble to anyone who denounces his boss’s regime. And yes it is a regime, make no mistake. Bill C-38, that horrific “budget” bill would also make dissent illegal.
And given the little history trivia above, assuming the student protesters are anti-Semitic is a fallacy. Odds are, they didn’t have Jewish groups on their minds or the fact that the salute was adapted by Nazi Germany in the 30s and 40s. That is because, like myself, they don’t regard it as exclusive to Nazi Germany–they regard it as a symbol of dictatorships and fascism.
And for a reminder, here are Lawrence Britt’s 14 characteristics of fascism yet again. Stevie Spiteful has most of ‘em, if not all, in spades.
I will leave you with the scene of the Jewish barber, dressed as dictator, Adenoid Hynkel of Tomainia, portrayed by Charlie Chaplin. Sounds like words to live by to me.