I am always up for some good satire. I have been known to throw a punch or two at individuals and organizations with some fun “Onion” type stories. That’s why when I heard that Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, had taken offense to a story satirizing him in WashingtonCityPaper.com I was unmoved. Being related to the owner of the Dallas Mavericks, I have seen and heard a lot. Thick skins are a requirement of the job. I however, also took interest in Snyder’s claim of antisemitism related to a graphic with the story that had graffiti “penciled in” adding horns, beard and mustache to his photo. Shrugging off hate speech may or may not be part of the minority sports owner’s job when it comes to the comment trolls and blog bigots but when it comes from main-stream media, it must be addressed.
For those unaware, the use of horns and beard is a time “honored” anti-Semitic caricature. WashingtonCity claims that the image was not antisemitic and meant to make him look like the devil. Is Dan Snyder the Devil or a “Devil Jew”? I am Jewish and consider myself in touch with anti-Semitic portrayals. I know Snyder is Jewish yet did not context this as anti-Semitic until Snyder brought it up. It could be the devil. That’s not what bothers me about the incident.
It is the response of Washington City that I find, insensitive, ignorant and bordering on antisemitism itself. They engaged in what I call the “Jewish Kryptonite Defense” engaging in statements that are grounded in stereotype that have no logical basis to refute.
In the response to Snyder’s claim of Antisemitism, the paper responded as follows:
“The story didn’t mention Snyder’s religion at all. And the illustration is meant to resemble the type of scribbling that teenagers everywhere have been using to deface photos for years. The image of Snyder doesn’t look like an “anti-Semitic caricature”—it looks like a devil.”
The paper goes on to state:
“But we at City Paper take accusations of anti-Semitism seriously—in part because many of us are Jewish, including staffers who edited the story and designed the cover. So let us know, Mr. Snyder, when you want to fight the real anti-Semites.”
Because the story does not mention that Snyder is Jewish the intent can not be anti-Semitic? Because they chose to defend an alternate definition, that makes it so? Does Mike Madden have any personal context to view the picture in any other way? I don’t know. I suspect there are numerous Jews not invested in defending the caricature who will look at it and feel differently. Much of antisemitism is implied and subtle(sometimes not so subtle) imagery. It is rare that the hard core “StormFronter” actually comes out and says “Dirty Devil Jew” in a mainstream news forum. The Rick Sanchez and Helen Thomas blunders are few and far between. It is generally more subtle.
Then we get to the other part of the Jewish Kryptonite Defense:
“We would never engage in antisemitism because Jews work here and worked on the story”
I put this right up there with ” I am not a bigot because I have two Jewish friends.” I have a news flash for WashingtonCity. Jews can and do engage in anti-Semitic behavior.
Could the true intent have been to portray Snyder as a devil owner rather than a Devil Jew? Sure. I am not accusing the City Paper of being anti-Semitic as an organization but simply pointing out that there can be antisemitism in the organization and the fact that they “know some Jews” or that Jews were involved with the story does not change this. It tells me that if there is any antisemitism at WashingtonCity, there is no way they will be able to figure it out unless it drops like a not so subtle Mel Gibson anvil through the roof of the building. Ignorance is bliss. It is much easier to avoid dealing dealing with facts, and instead engage in a shameful public “Who Us?” Jewish Kryptonite” defense that is almost as bad as as antisemitism itself.