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The conversation: Why anti-Semitism is having a 'moment'

March 7, 2011 | 12:09 pm

Galliano We're only three months into 2011 and already the Simon Wiesenthal Center's  'Top 10 Anti-Semitic Slurs' list is filling up with particularly despicable contenders. Between John Galliano's ranting declaration of love for Hitler, Julian Assange's paranoia that the Jews are after him, Charlie Sheen's "Chaim Lorre" remark and Japanese pop group Kishidan's Paris Hilton- and Prince Harry-style faux pas (they wore Nazi uniforms on MTV), anti-Semitism infiltrated the pop culture with the force of a hammer last week.

In a post devoid of its signature sarcasm, Gawker asked how it was possible that anti-Semitism was having a "moment."  But this is nothing new, at least at Dior, wrote Laurie Pike on Los Angeles Magazine's style blog. The question is why? Here are two takes:

From the New York Times, High Fascism by Rhonda Garelick:

At the root of the whole system is the most elusive myth of all: the impossible promise that fashion can vanquish physical inadequacy and aging, conferring the beauty and youth we see on the runways and on every page of Vogue — a cult of physical perfection very much at home in the history of fascism.

And although we insist on the racial diversity of fashion’s current standards of beauty, the fascists’ body ideal has persisted and expanded far beyond Europe. The hallmarks of the Nazi aesthetic — blue eyes, blond hair, athletic fitness and sharp-angled features — are the very elements that define what we call the all-American look, still visible in the mythic advertising landscapes of designers like (the decidedly non-Aryan) Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein.

From the Telegraph, How anti-Semitism entered the zeitgeist by David Baddiel:

The truth is complex. One way into it is to ask: How is anti-Semitism different from other types of racial hatred? The answer, I think, can be found in the language. To return to the high priest of drunken Jew-hatred, Mel G (I know this makes him sound like a Spice Girl; it’s intentional). Mel said, in his rant of 2008: "Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world." This is key: Jews are the only race whose negative image as projected by racists is high-status. It’s the same with Julian Assange’s (alleged) notion that a cabal of powerful Jewish journalists are behind the smearing of WikiLeaks; it’s even somewhere in Charlie Sheen's renaming of the producer of his former sitcom Chuck Lorre as "Chaim Levine", carrying with it as it does two suggestions: one, that Jews are the controlling forces behind the U.S. media, and two, that they have disguised this fact about themselves and need to be outed.

Although they can also be called dirty, or cheating, or all the other unlovely adjectives that racists also apply to black people or Asians, it is only Jews who get this extra, subtle spin, that they are secretly in charge, secretly pulling the strings (of course it is only Jews who are not immediately recognisable as different, either – which is how we manage, I presume, to crawl under the wire and get weaving with all this secret stuff).

 RELATED:

A papal defense of Jews

The right to be vile

Anti-Semitic hall of shame

--Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: John Galliano in March 2005. Credit: Horacio Villalobos / EPA

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