Warning to those of you who like a few glasses of wine with your meal: Apparently, virulent antisemitic ranting is now a side-effect of alcohol consumption.
First, Mel Gibson. Now John Galliano:
The French fashion house Christian Dior said Tuesday that it had started procedures to dismiss its chief designer, John Galliano, following accusations that Mr. Galliano made anti-Semitic outbursts at a Paris bar.
[ . . . ]
The video, posted on the Web site of the British tabloid The Sun, appears to show Mr. Galliano taunting other patrons at the bar, La Perle, declaring in a slurred voice that “I love Hitler” and that “people like you would be dead,” and “your mothers, your forefathers” would all be “gassed.” It was unclear when the video was recorded.
Of course, the notion that these outbursts were caused by drunkedness is laughable. Being drunk makes you lose your filters; it doesn’t turn you into a racist.
I’m uncomfortable with hate speech laws in general, and even though Galliano was clearly off his rocker on the offensive scale, the criminal charges against him make me squirm. But Dior firing him seems like an eminently sensible decision from a business standpoint, especially with spokesperson and Oscar-winner Natalie Portman speaking out against him. And such opinions are sadly all-too-common in France, which does has these laws on the books for a reason. I highly doubt that “I was drunk” will hold up as an excuse in court.
Then again, maybe he should speak to Mel Gibson’s lawyer for some coaching.
Interesting op-ed by David Brooks in the New York Times about the real story of Chanukah and the difficult questions that it raises:
Generations of Sunday school teachers have turned Hanukkah into the story of unified Jewish bravery against an anti-Semitic Hellenic empire. Settlers in the West Bank tell it as a story of how the Jewish hard-core defeated the corrupt, assimilated Jewish masses. Rabbis later added the lamp miracle to give God at least a bit part in the proceedings.
But there is no erasing the complex ironies of the events, the way progress, heroism and brutality weave through all sides. The Maccabees heroically preserved the Jewish faith. But there is no honest way to tell their story as a self-congratulatory morality tale. The lesson of Hanukkah is that even the struggles that saved a people are dappled with tragic irony, complexity and unattractive choices.
(Hat tip: Lesley).
It is certainly true that there are a number of ways to interpret the story of Chanukah. It can be read as a tale of the triumph of religious extremism over secularism. It can be read as an anti-assimilationist tale. It can be viewed as an anti-imperialist struggle, or as a divisive civil war.
All of this tends to get lost in the shuffle among most people who simply view Chanukah as the “festival of lights”, a generic, commercialized Jewish version of the equally-commercialized Christmas, a simple excuse for retailers to make money. A view would have likely incensed the anti-assimilationist Maccabees to no end.
Sure, at its core, Chanukah is just another one of those “they tried to kill us, we won, let’s eat” holidays that fill the Jewish calendar. And there’s nothing wrong with a little celebration. But it’s important to know what, and why, we’re celebrating.
Happy Chanukah, all!