February 4, 2011

"Dan Snyder, Owner of a Team Named After an Ethnic Slur, Sues Over Perceived Anti-Semitism."

"That’s anti-Semitic? That looks to me like a public figure with devil horns drawn on his head. I mean, I’m a guy who has gotten into bar fights over how The Smurfs are anti-Semitic (I mean Gargamel. Really?), but I can hardly fathom how drawing devil horns on a photo conveys any ethnic malice."

Writes Elie Mystal, making a point but also displaying some surprising ignorance about iconography.

46 comments:

Famous Original Mike said...

Is it any surprise that Elie Mystal is confused and intellectually lazy? Those are his signature traits.

Oh, and Hail to the Redskins!

Hoosier Daddy said...

I’m a guy who has gotten into bar fights over how The Smurfs are anti-Semitic

What kind of bars does he go to?

shoutingthomas said...

As the leading loathsome racist on this site, I feel personally compelled to answer this post.

A pox on both sides!

Bring back Chief Illiniwek!

traditionalguy said...

So what about Free Cartoon Speech? Is this about a photo of the real man being altered as an insult? It is anti-Snyder alright, but welcome to the big leagues. I see this as Snyder's clever slap suit using antisemitism for a boot strap counter attack designed to put his opponents off their game.

Peter Friedman said...

Oh, the imagery has been used to express anti-semitism, but it's widely used now just to depict people as satanic presences. Just like "blood libel."

PETER V. BELLA said...

Football- sports in general- does bring out the crazy in many of us.

PaulV said...

Not sure who is worse, Snyder or owner of Orioles.

edutcher said...

A set of horns, a beard, and mustache seem more anti-Christian. Catholics and Protestants anthropomorphize everything.

PS Mistel wouldn't know an ethnic slur if somebody hit him with it. The Redskins imagery evokes fighting qualities most bitter clingers view as admirable.

WV "rearf" The call of the Treasure Dog.

Jeff with one 'f' said...

I grew up in Texas, imagined by East Coast Jews to be a hotbed of anti-semitism, and I never heard the horn myth until I moved to Philadelphia. Philly has lots of Jews and consequently a lot of anti-semitism, whereas Texas has a comparative lack of Jews and exactly zero anti-semitism. I'm sure there are jew-haters in the Lone Star State, but I never met them. Plenty of the garden-variety racial stereotyping, though.

It seems to hate some group you need to be exposed to them on a personal level. In other words, diversity helps foster intolerance.

Hagar said...

The terms "red man" and "redskin" come from a Caribbean people, encountered by Columbus and the early Spanish conquistadors, but soon extinct, that indeed had a reddish cast to their skins.
I do not see that the terms constitute "ethnic slurs." The on-field behavior of Chief Illiniwek did, and is properly condemned, but then so should most crowd behavior I see filmed at football games.

How about the Minnesota Vikings? Viking is not a term of endearment. It basically means pirate or hunter/killer.

William said...

I looked at the drawing. I don't see it as an anti-Semitic caricature. Can anyone here claim that the drawing inspires anti-Semitic feelings in them?....I think people who say eeny-meeny nowadays use the toe of a tiger, and most younger people are unaware of the alternate reading. I just don't think anyone equates devil horns with Jews. If a tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it etc. That same analogy works for racish and anti-Semitc slurs.

Tibore said...

Well... I don't know if Elie Mystal is ignorant or not, but can I just go ahead and call Dan Snyder an idiot anyway? I don't know how to interpret the whole devil-horns thing, but from an NFL business standpoint, Snyder displays the talent-evaluation acumen of a rhodendron.

former law student said...

Could every boy I knew in middle school have been an unwitting anti-Semite? The devil horns and beard were universally drawn on pictures of putzes.

t-man said...

It would be more appropriate to draw a baby bonnet and pacifier over the picture of Snyder.

I think that I drew devil horns and a beard on the cover of 2/3 of the people on the cover of TV Week growing up. Given the prevalence of Jews in Hollywood, I guess that could have been unconsciously anti-semitic.

Big Mike said...

You wouldn't believe all the fecal matter being directed at Snyder from the local news media. Pulitzer prize-winning humor columnist Gene Weingarten published this column in the Washington Post in response (and he discusses the column further in an online chat session here. And Gene's comments are nothing when compared to what the sports anchor had to say on the local TV news last night.

The original article is at this website. You can judge for yourself.

In the comments thread on another Althouse post I offered to swap for a piece of used toiler paper. Good thing none of you took me up on it, because he's clearly not worth even that.

BTW, the story about Pat Hill (in the original Washington City Paper article, scroll down to 'H') is completely true, BTW. Or you can scroll down to Brad Johnson, benched by the Redskins in favor of Jeff George (the original "million dollar arm and five cent brain" athlete) and the winning quarterback in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Big Mike said...

Bring back Chief Illiniwek!

@shoutingthomas, I hated to see the Chief go, but his dance at the football game halftimes was always a caricature of a Plains Indian war dance. I can see it being a thumb in the eye to a Native American.

rcocean said...

Dan Snyder is Jewish? Who knew. Anyway, its nice he hasn't caved and they're still the "Washington Redskins".

cubanbob said...

Has anyone actually read the complaint? Perhaps Ms. Althouse can read it and comment on it for us. I have not read it so I can't comment on what is in the complaint. Perhaps Snyder has good cause, perhaps not. If anyone can post the link to the complaint that might be of interest.

As for jews and horns, an anecdote to be sure, but I do know a jewish woman, an engineer, who told me years ago that during WW2 she and her husband (also an engineer) were sent down to a small town in Alabama for a government project and the townsfolk turned out to see them, to see if its true Jews had horns.

Oligonicella said...

So basically, once any cartoon feature is used as a slur by being drawn on some empowered minority group member's picture or caricature, all other uses of the same feature automatically become that same slur? No. Too general, too easily abused itself and just stupid.

wv: ingeysi - dunno, some Yiddish word.

aronamos said...

So, if I black out some teeth on a picture of some jerk, am I risking being sued by some angry Appalachian?

former law student said...

to see if its true Jews had horns.

Now I get it. Snyder thought all of Borat was a documentary.

ken in sc said...

I grew up in Alabama in the 40s and 50s. I never heard of Jews having horns until today. The guy who ran the Boy Scout dept. in Brown's Dept. store was Jewish and was perfectly nice. It sounds like a joke to me. I think there are just as many false stereotypes about rural southerners as there about Jews.

Sigivald said...

It's 2011, guys.

"Jews are the DEVIL!!!" hasn't been current in the West in living memory.

People draw devil horns on people they dislike regardless of ethnicity and without any reference to old anti-Semitic tropes all the time.

I can comprehend why someone might possibly - if they were basically hypersensitive or just deeply steeped in the history of anti-Jewish propaganda - find some offense there, yes.

But I see no reason to posit or infer such a motive behind the action in this case - and the wrong is in the motive, not the possible or actual offense.

Shanna said...

Texas has a comparative lack of Jews and exactly zero anti-semitism.

Ditto Arkansas.

Don't know if I'd go so far as to call that picture anti semitic, but it did remind me a little of the Jew Suss, with the mustache and beard (mostly because I saw a documentary on the filmmaker a month ago).

Mostly it's just stupid to put that kind of thing in a paper. Isn't that impulse to scribble over someone's picture a rather childish thing? Grow up.

The Drill SGT said...

Dan Snyder is Jewish? who knew?

Seriously, I'm a Redskins fan for the first half of the season until it gets too depressing and then I root for the Steelers or Packers. Seriously, anybody but Dallas, Philly and the Giants.... I digress

Dan is a terrible owner. The team has been mismanaged since Jack Cook died. John Riggins fir owner.

Seriously though, that's why I root for GB. They have the only owners one might like...

paul a'barge said...

Can we get some of the resident Jews here to explain this to us?

I'm confused.

Dave in Tucson said...

Be sure to read the original article that started the whole thing. If even a quarter of what's in there about Snyder is true, the guy is a real tool.

aronamos said...

Note that Dan filed his case in New York, because in DC, he'd be laughed out of court.

Big Mike said...

@Dave, there's way more that Snyder's done besides what's in the article.

Maguro said...

I thought we weren't supposed to notice who's Jewish.

HT said...

i was wondering if this would be picked up (before I heard about the anti semitism angle). City Paper stands by their article, which was good. I didn't know the anti semitism charge had been made. I thought he was suing for libel or something or defamation.

He's hated by just about everyone in DC. The man is loathsome and has wrecked a storied franchise, to use a cliche. Every year it's groundhog day all over again. We're a national joke. If he's there, it's a lock: there will be no improvement. He's the kiss of death.

Trooper York said...

Well Paul, Jews are often depicted as the devil with horns and goatee. If you don't believe me ask Cedarford to forward a copy of his stationery.

Trooper York said...

Oh and it obvious that this guy is getting fights about the smurfs in juice bars.

Those tweens can be a rough bunch and that really is too bad for this guy because he is just there to pick up girls.

Trooper York said...

Did I tell you lately that the Packers are gonna win the Super Bowl?

Trooper York said...

Original Mike just puked in his girlfriend purse like Ronnie from the Jersey Shore.

Trooper York said...

I do have to agree it is horrible when people indulge in sterotypes.

Even in the future!

HT said...

what town was that cubanbob? I'm curious.

The project wasn't TVA or redstone was it?

Belkys said...

In argentina there is a team called Juventud Sionista. Zionist Youth

Belkys said...

Viking is a profession of the scandinavian not a race or ethnic group.
By the way the Cleveland Indians are called so honoring a native american player of the team in 1896

Synova said...

Viking is a profession or activity... sort of like being a pirate, only with horns. ;-)

Okay, fine, viking helmets didn't generally have horns on them.

The thing of it is that while vikings were not nice people and not generally doing nice things at all, in fact were often enough criminals sent off to misbehave (rape and pillage) elsewhere than at home, people who might have a right to fuss have instead decided to concentrate on the good parts, the bravery and adventure and exploration. So it's not a slur.

The sports teams who chose Redskins or Indians or... are there others?.. Warriors? I know there are others all the say down to high school teams. But those names were chosen to invoke strength and dominance EXACTLY the same as Vikings or Spartans or... whatever. Think of any real slurs and there aren't any sports teams using them.

At some point you just have to say to the grievance mongers that it's a choice to be proud about your heritage.

John Thacker said...

The origin of the "Jews have horns" myth has nothing to do with the devil, anyway. It's the result of a mistranslation from Hebrew into Latin in the Vulgate Bible by St. Jerome. There's a passage in Exodus describing Moses returning to the Israelites after being in the presence of the Lord, and it describes him as having either "horns" or "rays of light" coming from his head. (Same word can be translated either way.) The Vulgate IIRC uses Latin that includes the word "horns" but uses it in a metaphorical way, but the metaphor was lost on some people.

Michaelangelo sculpted a famous statue of Moses with horns.

In origin, the horn stereotype wasn't even negative, you see.

former law student said...

I bet the Irish are tired of being depicted as a race of pugnacious leprechauns. But we really need to talk to the Franciscans to see if they're fine with the Padres.

jerryofva said...

Hagar:

The so-called antics of Chief Illiniwek were based on authentic Oglala Sioux dances. Therefore your characterization of the Chief's performance as antics is racist

dont tread 2012 said...

@FLS

"I bet the Irish are tired of being depicted as a race of pugnacious leprechauns. But we really need to talk to the Franciscans to see if they're fine with the Padres."

Heh. Remember when none of this nonsensical hypersensitivity went on? Whether its stereotypical or descriptive, we can do a better job of being grown ups and not making a federal case out of an NFL/MLB team's name.

Bring back the Washington Bullets. Better yet, rename them the Washington Condescending Cornholers.

If you want to be accurate, it should be the Notre Dame Drunken Irishmen. The fighting part comes after. And I don't think the Franciscan order would have a problem with 'Padre'. Calling someone 'father' in spanish is no vice....

Folks that take these things to the ridiculous ends simply cannot moderate themselves. And because of that, they feel they must try and control everything and everyone else.

Big Mike said...

@jerryofva, you are wrong on so many levels that it hurts to think about it.

Let's start with the notion that the Oglala Sioux had anything to do with the Illiniwek confederacy. They didn't. The main tribes that made up the Illiniwek confederacy were the Kaskaskia, the Cahokia, the Peoria, the Tamaroa, and the Michigamea. My point being that making reference to the customs of the Sioux as being in any way relevant to the customs of the Illiniwek tribes is like portraying 18th century residents of Tuscany as wearing kilts, because there was some other tribe of Europeans -- the Caledonians -- that wore kilts.

Then there's the question of the "dance" itself, which included some steps that were more or less akin to authentic Native American dance steps, but I think I can assure you that real Native Americans did not include cheerleader-style toe touches in their dances. And particularly so since the Native Americans doing the war dances would normally have weapons in their hands.

But I do miss the Chief. If the University of Illinois had reached out to the remnants of the Illiniwek now on reservations in Oklahoma, the way that Florida established scholarships and other relationships with the authentic Seminoles, maybe the Chief would still be around.

Timon said...

This story reminds me of the suit against Jimmy Carter and publishers by several Jewish people upset about claimed misrepresentations. I wonder if these lawsuits succeed, if the Gospels will be next for their antisemitism and claims of historicity.