You will be hard press to find someone in the United States that won’t list the freedom of speech as a fundamental enjoyed by Americans. Unfortunately, in the United States we don’t enjoy the benefits of true freedom of speech. Speech is regulated and restricted in a variety of ways, there is a large and growing things that you can say, or at best shouldn’t say online. But aside from secret federal laws, there is another prevalent form of American censorship that often takes the form of public boycotts.
A good example of modern day American censorship is the case of Miami Marlins coach Ozzie Guillen who was suspended five games for something he said in an interview. He didn’t say any words out of spite or anger or malice, he simply stated his opinion. Unfortunately for Mr. Guillen, his opinion went against that of most people in Miami. In an interview with Time magazine, Guillen is reported as saying that he respects Fidel Castro for staying in power throughout the years in spite of those that want him deposed.
Only in America do you have a dichotomy of having the freedom of speech and yet not being able to say things like the N-word. And now, you can’t use the F-word, J-word, R-word, S-word, and a whole lot of words. You can’t say anything nice about Fidel Castro, or Adolf Hitler. Even saying that Castro has a cool beard and Hitler had a nice mustache will get you a wide range of backlash, especially if you are a public figure.
I know that someone is already taking what I saying out of context, so let me be clear. I am not saying that I like Castro’s beard or policy and by no means am I saying anything nice about Hitler or Stalin or Mao. I am just saying that it is sad that in a country that spent so much in fighting against the oppression that these dictators and tyrants represented we ourselves suppress and censor people for having ideas different than the norm. Worse than Fidel, more horrendous that Hitler, more atrocious than Stalin is group think.
The meaning of symbols change, sometimes from a religious meaning to one synonymous with hatred, such as the swastika. In recent history, the swastika was used as a symbol for Hitler’s Third Reich, under whose emblem an approximate six million Jews, Poles, Gypsies, and other were exterminated. Originally the swastika was not a symbol of hate or murder, it was a religious symbol used by different peoples at different times going back to early civilizations. It is still used today in Hindu homes as a religious symbol, not much unlike the Christian cross or the Jewish star of David. The swastika, again is going through a metamorphosis transformation, especially as the Anti-Defamation League has downgraded the swastika as a Jewish hate symbol. The swastika is still considered a symbol of hate, but not one that specifically targets Jews, it is has broaden it’s horizon to other minorities so to speak.
But the swastika is not the only Nazi symbol that is going through a similar change in meaning, Hitler himself is getting a PR make over. During World Ware II, Hitler was portrayed in American propaganda posters as an tyrannical ape, evil incarnate, or a diabolical villain. In 2005 Prince Harry of Wales has been photograph wearing a Halloween costume of a Nazi soldier. Socialite Paris Hilton was seen doing what seemed like a Nazi salute at a club in 2010. By no means would I ever consider Prince Harry or Paris Hilton as Nazi sympathizers so people are left with the question, why did they behave as such?
There is a growing number of viral internet memes that juxtapose Hitler and something considered cute, like kittens. There is a website devoted to Cats that Look Like Hitler. The website has all sorts of pictures with whose hair color make it resemble the Fuhrer. Another internet meme is that of a little kid dressed up as Hitler himself holding a near empty glass of orange juice with the LOL caption that reads I HAVE ELIMINATED ALL THE JUICE. Another popular Hitler viral meme is to take the clip from the movie The Downfall where Hitler throws a tantrum and dub it in English about some other current event such as the BP oil spill.
I Have Eliminated All The Juice
Is Hitler funny? I don’t think Hitler would have doing well in The Last Comic Standing but many are remixing a dark sense of humor with elements of the Third Reich. The swastika, the Nazi symbol, and even Hitler himself are being transformed via viral internet memes to a degree that even the Anti-Defamation League might one day even downgrade Hitler himself as a Jewish hate symbol.