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Wilkes: Manufactured Holocaust Outrage

WHEN A SHIRT IS JUST A SHIRT … By Mande Wilkes  ||  The thing about being Jewish is that people simultaneously rue and elevate you.  It’s a natural sentiment, I guess, toward a race that has been historically mistreated yet so many of whose members are luminaries of media, law, technology, and medicine.  It’s why no…

WHEN A SHIRT IS JUST A SHIRT …

mande wilkesBy Mande Wilkes  ||  The thing about being Jewish is that people simultaneously rue and elevate you.  It’s a natural sentiment, I guess, toward a race that has been historically mistreated yet so many of whose members are luminaries of media, law, technology, and medicine.  It’s why no one considers Jews a minority, though numbering less than two percent of the national population, we’re not only *a* minority but *the* minority.

Point is, at once pitied and celebrated, Jews occupy a strange little sliver of the American psyche.  Over the years this has manifested in some interesting ways, my favorite example being the entire premise of “Dirty Dancing,” which featured a saliently Jewish father in the dual roles of abortionist and medical hero.

Presently there’s a ruckus about a women’s shirt sold by niche retailer Zara. (For what it’s worth, Zara’s whole line of clothing is boring and overdone and so last year.)  Anyway, appliqued in the upper corner of the shirt is a yellow Star of David.

Yes … sort of like the one that the Nazis made Jews wear in Europe to designate them.

Now keep in mind that for its part, Zara advertised it as a “sheriff’s shirt,” with the star-shaped applique meant to represent a sheriff’s badge. That certainly rings true to me, because as I sit here looking at it, it looks way more like a “badge” than a Star of David.

But that’s besides the point, because by now the “Holocaust” narrative has penetrated headlines, causing Zara to pull the shirt from shelves.

Can you guess why this story is so resounding to Americans? It’s because it coincides nice-and-neat with the other big news stories unfolding now – the unrest in the Mideast. It’s just another tool in the shed for people who want to be convinced that there’s a “growing strain of anti-Semitism.”

It’s annoying to me, as a Jew, because that simply doesn’t feel like what’s happening at all.

Right now Americans are striking a delicate balance between remembering past Jewish suffering and recognizing current Jewish preeminence, and I worry that needlessly alarmist non-stories will tip the scales. I for one don’t want to get to the point when any oblique reference to Judaism – like the star on Zara’s blouse – causes a kerfuffle.

Because not everything is a metaphor or an allusion or a harbinger. Sometimes a shirt is just a shirt, is what.

Mande Wilkes is a wife, mother, businesswoman, author, etc. residing on the South Carolina coast with her family. 

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44 comments

Smirks August 28, 2014 at 10:02 am

It’s annoying to me, as a Jew, because that simply doesn’t feel like what’s happening at all.

Understandable, but come on, the first thing I though of when I saw this wasn’t “Aww, some little kid is going to play sheriff.” Maybe that’s just how our culture is, similar to the swastika symbol being seen as a symbol of hatred, where in other cultures (Indian and Japanese, off the top of my head) it doesn’t.

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Dave Chappelle August 28, 2014 at 10:10 am

Agreed. I appreciate and “get” your message Mande. However, my first “split-second” reaction (which is unbiased and truthful) was that this was no sheriff’s costume.

The black and white stripes, included.

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J Mande Wilkes August 28, 2014 at 10:15 am

Good point about the black stripes. When a friend first sent me a pic of the shirt, my first reaction was that it’s the stripes that call to mind the “prisoner” thing, and not so much the star itself. A solid-color shirt might read differently.

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Dave Chappelle August 28, 2014 at 10:19 am

The subconscious can be fascinating. Not that I’m shifting to a deep-thought moment. But the subconscious truly shows our judgmental tendencies, etc. That said, I wonder if seeing “holocaust” in the title didn’t help formulate my initial gut reaction.

Either way, again–I do see your point and agree with the desire to stave off escalation of tension.

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Jackie Chiles August 28, 2014 at 10:19 am

There is also a growing fascination with Hitler in some Eastern countries like Thailand and Vietnam to the point where Hitler images are appearing on clothing.

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Smirks August 28, 2014 at 10:23 am

That is something I’ve noticed, although usually they’re funny ones (like Ronald McDonald Hitler). Haven’t seen it go beyond that myself but no telling anymore.

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SCBlues August 28, 2014 at 10:25 am

I’m not sure if I agree or disagree with you to be honest – but thanks for a great opinion piece – really adds some flavor to the Fits site.

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RogueElephant August 28, 2014 at 12:24 pm

“really adds some flavor to the Fits sight” Dose ketchup or mustard go better with BS ? LOL

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SCBlues August 28, 2014 at 6:46 pm

That is pretty good, Rogue! LOL

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easterndumbfuckistan August 28, 2014 at 11:19 am

This strikes me as one of those United States of the Offended things. Everyone has to find a reason to be offended or be a victim. There is a culture of victimhood and offence in certain quarters of the population and it’s frighting. I truly think this was just a hideous design, not an attempt to hurt or offend anyone. Just like the US Navy building complex that was built in the 60s that look like swastikas from the air, just that no one noticed them until Google Maps came along.

https://www.fitsnews.com/2009/04/15/were-all-just-a-bunch-of-nazis/

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TJ August 28, 2014 at 11:32 am

Funny, my first reaction was “That’s one ugly-ass shirt. What idiot would spent good money to wear that piece of crap?” Guess I have to work on my social consciousness…

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west_rhino August 28, 2014 at 1:21 pm

no pink triangles or the other symbols for gypsies, RINOs et al… DISCRIMINATION I TELL YOU!

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david August 28, 2014 at 1:21 pm

There a difference between being anti-Semitic and being critical of the Israeli government. Of course, the Israeli government does everything in its power to scream anti-Semitism every single time it’s critiqued. Fortunately, more and more people are seeing through that little game.

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west_rhino August 28, 2014 at 1:26 pm

‘course in the dumbed down US, there is the Al Jizzera prompted question of holocaust? What holocaust? I’d wear that shirt (if a men’s cut were available) to poke a finger in the deniers’ eyes.

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Beemer August 28, 2014 at 1:33 pm

Amazing that blacks spend way more energy reminding us of slavery than Jews do regarding the Holocaust. I think of this every time I see a black driving a BMW and wonder if they have ever really thought about the implications.

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Bible Thumper August 28, 2014 at 1:46 pm

“reminding us of slavery” Not the Blacks I know. It is all in the media and white participate also.

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Bible Thumper August 28, 2014 at 1:44 pm

Horizontal stripes and yellow star patch? That’s a no-brainer. Zara was probably trying to be controversial not anti-Semitic. In today’s Kardashian culture, any publicity is good.

There is anti-Semitism world wide but not so much in the USA. Jewish migration over the last century is dramatic. There use to be large Jewish populations all across Europe, the Arab world, Argentina and the United States. Of the 9.4 million pre WWII European Jews only about 1.3 million remain. Of the 1.14 million Jews in the Muslim world only 50,000 remain.

Even recently Jews have been leaving the former Soviet Union. A large amount of population loss has also been due to assimilation. Ninety-four percent of all core Jews live in the USA and Israel.

A large part of the guilt over the Holocaust is diminishing as that generation passes and sympathy has increased for the Palestinians. Much larger Muslim populations in Europe are also contributing to anti-Semitism.

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Squishy123 August 28, 2014 at 1:57 pm

So are you a JAP?

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J Mande Wilkes August 28, 2014 at 2:01 pm

Oh, the JAP-iest!

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shifty henry August 28, 2014 at 2:43 pm

OK, I’ll start this train
—————-

Then there was the JAP who asked her father for fifty dollars to go shopping. “Forty dollars,”
he screamed, “what’re you gonna buy for thirty dollars?”

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Bible Thumper August 28, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Mande, now that I know you are Jewish, I’ll only thump your rump with the Old Testament.

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J Mande Wilkes August 28, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Promises, promises

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Bible Thumper August 28, 2014 at 10:10 pm

causes a “kerfuffle.”
I thought it was Yiddish or Hebew.
It’s not American English. It is chiefly British Date: 1946
originally Scottish Gaelic.
Never heard it before. Where did you pick it up?

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Buz Martin August 28, 2014 at 2:25 pm

Yeah, that shirt is ugly as hell, and if it was supposed to be a sheriff badge the whole prison stripe thing works against that. So, It was probably intended to as a social statement having something to do with being Jewish or expressing solidarity with Jews — but a really lame one.

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euwe max August 28, 2014 at 4:00 pm

Are you reform, or atheist?

If reform, do you keep Kosher?

Are you a liberal?

Do you think the likkud is too conservative?

Do you think that the ADL is over the top?

Do you think that Zionism is a threat to Israel’s neighbors?

Do you think that Israel causes many of its own problems?

Do you think criticizing Israel is anti-Semitic?

What, in your mind, are the top three benefits to the US in giving Israel 3 billion dollars a year in military aid?

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J Mande Wilkes August 28, 2014 at 4:09 pm

Do you think that your questions are actually neutral?

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euwe max August 28, 2014 at 4:58 pm

If my questions were actually neutral, this would not be an interesting question.

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Sandi Morals August 28, 2014 at 7:55 pm

Always wondered how a Jew,after the Holocaust, could vote for a Democrat in America when the party advocates for and has exterminated 60,000,000 unborn children?
I have this discussion with my Jewish friends in WPB. Any insight?

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J Mande Wilkes August 28, 2014 at 8:09 pm

How spurious! I happen to be libertarian, but Jews as a whole are a progressive bunch. This won’t change.

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Bible Thumper August 28, 2014 at 9:53 pm

Do you approve gentile circumcision? Couldn’t a gentile trick you? What is the one question you would ask as a test if a guy was trying to trick a Jewish girl into believing he’s Jewish?
I need to know.

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David237856 August 28, 2014 at 4:16 pm

a) It’s not a women’s shirt but a children’s shirt.
b) the ‘star’ actually has the word ‘Sheriff’ written on it. (Not very clear in the picture: maybe a bit of photoshopping somewhere?)
c) the points of the ‘star’ have round bobbles on them, like a sheriff’s badge but unlike a Star of David.
d) concentration camp uniforms had broad vertical stripes, not narrow horizontal ones
e) contrary to common assumptions, concentration camp uniforms worn by Jews did not in general have yellow stars on them. Yellow stars were required to be worn by Jews in German-occupied Europe outside the camps so that they could be easily identified, which was hardly necessary in a camp for Jews. Camp uniforms in general had either individual identification numbers or triangles (not stars) to identify categories of prisoner in mixed camps: pink for homosexuals, yellow for Jews, etc. A prisoner falling into more than one category might have overlapping triangles of different colors, which might look like a star, but not an all-yellow star. Admittedly in some cases yellow stars were used, but this was not standard procedure. I also admit that I have no expertise on the subject beyond searching Wikipedia and Google Images, but hey, at least I went that far!
In short, the shirt does not look much like a concentration camp uniform at all, and only the contagious hysteria of the internet has allowed an obvious nonsense to be so widely propagated.

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Maliban Al Maliban August 28, 2014 at 5:09 pm

google: crying wolf, hate crimes hoaxes in america. israheili intel is
running a worldwide propaganda op with its agents running stories about
“rising tide of anti semitism”. but it is all a lie, just propaganda
designed to get sympathy for the “poor jews, i.e. zionist thugs” who are
committing mass murder in gaza. just google: rising tide of anti
semitism…………you can see the operation for yourself.

p.s. google also: robert maxwell israels superspy +funeral…………..lear
n how mossad controls media in the usa and europe.

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J Mande Wilkes August 28, 2014 at 5:15 pm

Wut.

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Mike at the Beach August 28, 2014 at 8:34 pm

The shirt does (of course) look like a Holocaust prisoner shirt, but on the chance that the under-30 crowd who runs that joint is simply stupid and it was accidental, the star does appear to be a traditional six-pointed sheriff’s star (I haven’t seen the little decorative balls on the points of the Star of David before, but they are standard on a sheriff’s badge). More importantly, is this what “not writing for FITS anymore” looks like?

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J Mande Wilkes August 28, 2014 at 8:46 pm

Since this is a popular question around here, I’ll clarify that “not writing for FITS” referred to the 4-ish year period during which I… didn’t write for FITS. That post was in fact an “I’m BACK” of sorts.

Disappointed? Relieved? Couldn’t care less?

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TontoBubbaGoldstein August 28, 2014 at 9:39 pm

Baby got back!

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Mike at the Beach August 28, 2014 at 10:33 pm

A little of each I guess, but I may have misunderstood the “not writing for FITS” thing- I was just going by the comments (I didn’t catch the original piece). I thought maybe your return was akin to Ravenel’s sad attempt to walk back his very clear renouncement of his citizenship during the now infamous adult hissy fit, but it looks like the disconnect may have been on my end. I know TBG will be happy, and that’s all that really matters…

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TontoBubbaGoldstein August 28, 2014 at 9:42 pm

…it coincides nice-and-neat with the other big news stories unfolding now – the unrest in the Mideast.

This could be said of ANYTHING that has EVER happened…

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Sam August 28, 2014 at 9:48 pm

Oy.

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Squishy123 August 28, 2014 at 10:20 pm

Imagine that, Jews whining about something… what’s the world coming to?

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Liked it better when mande was August 29, 2014 at 6:57 am

Jews are not a race. Can you mark yourself jew under race on the census? No. If you don’t know enough to know this, your opinion is uninformed and irrelevant. I even like that other girl that uses 2000 words to say what she could say in 500 and talks about the “silver lining to abortion” better than this drivel. Make it stop.

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J Mande Wilkes August 29, 2014 at 7:39 am Reply
Shut up booby mcboob August 29, 2014 at 8:44 am

That is stupid. Judaism is a belief and is not genetic. You may be able to trace your genes to a time and place that was predominantly jewish. If it was genetic, you would have no choice one eay or the other. You are arguing there is no free will and in effect, no freedom of religion.

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snickering August 29, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Don’t Mimes wear this shirt.

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