Nazism As Entertainment?

When is Nazism ever funny?

Never. It just isn’t.

I recently challenged Michael Tidd, a junior school headteacher in Sussex, because he posted this video on his Twitter feed. It’s one that has been around for a while and some joker changes the narrative to fit in with the spirit of the times.

The responses by teaching professionals was astounding.

People thought it was funny and lapped up the narrative with plenty of OMGs and LOLs as they blurted approval with “Truly brilliant!”, “absolute gold dust!” and “had me in stitches”.

They laughed, snorted, cried and even had tummy ache because it “made their day”. This is “the meme that keeps on giving” according to one.

Despite the power dynamics, there were some objections, including mine.

I didn’t think it was “hilarious” and I didn’t “love it”. I didn’t think it was “priceless” or “superb” and it didn’t make me “giggle”.

The video made me uneasy and I hated it. I thought, wrongly, that my fellow professionals would denounce it as a crude and disturbing piece of casual racism and tripe but no, most chuckled along “for so many reasons” “at the end of a long day”.

Who takes a pop at Ofsted within the context of Downfall? As I said in one of my replies to Michael Tidd, “This is not a funny ‘spoof’ – it is mindless and says a lot about those who are entertained by it.”

Pupils and parents look at Twitter and they look at what their teachers are up to. I’m sure they are very impressed with the fact that so many laughed along to this casual racism. When has it been acceptable for teachers and senior leaders to laugh along to a Nazi inspired meme?

As teachers, it’s important we provide a safe space to discuss social and political issues including the politics of hate, prejudice, and discrimination. It’s crucial we spend time talking about extremism, the rise of the far right and antisemitism. It’s important that our students don’t see us as the sort of people that laugh along to a grim Nazi meme.

The build-up to the General Election is showing that anti-Semistism is rightly a big issue and anti-Jewish racism is 100% wrong.

I posted To Michael Tidd the following comment:

Spoof expressions of bigotry, anti-Semitism and using Nazis as a vehicle for entertainment in a world of extremist thinking is just not funny and sharing it on social media for laughs is staggeringly reckless and unprofessional.

His lack of concern to my objection is worrying and so are all those who found the parody funny. Apparently, “People have been laughing at Hitler and the Nazis since Hitler was around.”

Oh, that’s okay then is it?

It isn’t. It’s a weak argument. “This is a joke” is not acceptable. It links to racism and prejudice.

This meme is one of many that trivialises a unique tragedy in human history. It’s cheap, it’s nasty and it’s not funny.

Some memes equate Ofsted to the Nazis – that’s very grown up. Having a laugh about Ofsted – go ahead but use another meme. Do it to Star Wars or something.

If you want to know why I feel so strongly then, as I said to MT, take a trip to the National Holocaust Centre and Museum and learn more why it matters we don’t find this ‘entertaining’.

I can only think that many of my colleagues haven’t had any professional standards training for quite some time and they have no idea what the Nolan Principles are either. They would be well-advised to revisit what it is acceptable to do and what is expected of them – everyone is watching. Digital footprints will come back to haunt some.

As reported in the Metro, “The British Labour MP Tom Harris had to step down from his internet adviser role after posting a version of the Downfall meme mocking Alex Salmond, who was First Minister of Scotland at the time.”

Think on. Mocking usually backfires.

Do you really want to hear one of your pupils say, “Are you a racist sir?”

I have deep misgivings about using the orchestrator of the Holocaust as a comic figure for laughs. Hitler is not a cartoon character and the Third Reich was no laughing matter. What is worrying is that Nazism is all over the internet and spoofed.

It reminds of what Tabatha Southey said once and I think we can apply her comments to the Nazi meme collective, “We’re living in the Irony Age, and we’re forging it into deadly weapons.”

Does Führer humour have a place in the teacher well-being narrative. Urm, I think not.

#holocaustmemorialday 2020 on 27 January.

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