Res Ipsa Loquitur*: Punk of the Week Speaks for Itself…. #2

pink paper origami

*The thing speaks for itself: actions speak a whole lot about intent. Negligence or accident? Intent vs banana skin, and whose job was it anyway to pick that fucking thing up before some poor schmuck broke their neck on it! What does it really matter, apart from a small matter of decades I suppose in the case of murder/manslaughter/wrongful death fractions of fault leading to greater fractions of life behind bars, or financial penalty.

There are many candidates for swine of the week, even more so since I was a day late thanks to minor but meaningful irritations taking my Saturday up in a haze of clipboards, clicking pens and passive aggressive threats to my shelter. I spent the afternoon amongst a herd of people wearing cat ears and Naruto headbands flooding Japantown. Whilst it was great to see money being spent there, it was absolutely impossible. I grabbed my daikon and ran.

Lazily clicking through the news, it was so full of low level swinedom that I began to feel this week would have no stand-out candidates at all. The usual mix of bloody domestic murders with no where near enough punishment being meted out, Hollywood types wanting to be Governors of states (Matthew McConaughey wants to be Governor of Texas. This is not a good thing. He is in too much of a bubble of privilege to make a good candidate and should stick to acting and other such useless pursuits), and schools verging on what seems to be grooming children (who the fuck would continue to send their kid to a school like Dalton. It was absolutely inappropriate and over rode parents wishes. Sex ed, yes sure, but that level of detail to a bunch of first graders is disgustingly wrong! Let them have their innocence).

Yuck. Let the thing speak for itself. Sometimes things are exactly as they seem, in an occum’s razor-like beam of light – the most simple explanation is generally true.

In the last five years since leaving it has been a constant thorn in my ass hearing how people don’t mean the hurt and danger and damage they cause. That the offenders are ignorant and dumb instead of malicious. Accidents caused by stupidity rather than damage caused by intent to do so. Like that makes the slightest bit of difference when the end result is damage and pain, fear and suffering.

I feel like I am setting out a corner stall, smoothing out a nice paper table cloth, putting those little clips that stop the wind taking it, and laying out various baked goods for sale for less than it costs to make ’em in the first place. I remember reading a really vicious thread on a (not American) mothering website that entered into some serious debate about who had the best bake sales, the Catholics or the Protestants. When it descended into who made the best cup of tea, I retreated from my lurking and left ’em to it. It had started to sound dangerous. Words are like those cakes that cost more to make for the Church fetes than they are purchased for…words and experience cost. Sometimes everything you had, and considerably more than a tray bake.

You know the Japanese have a very healthy traditional attitude to religion. They have their Kami. They don’t seek to push their Kami (Gods and Goddesses) onto other people. They don’t take them too seriously until there is a strong wind that saves Japan from the Mongolian invasion on multiple occasions, and they have to thank the Kani-samma just in case, because, well who likes being invaded! Shinto extremist? Never happens. It all went a bit wrong when the Aum Shinriko types decided one of the leaders was Jesus Christ himself, and got heavily into manufacturing LSD, Meth and a bit of ricin amongst other bad goodies and killed a bunch of people on the Tokyo Metro train system. The problem there was mixing Christianity with everything else, brewing up some unholy crazy mix.

There is always trouble when religion gets involved in anything, including selling hats, it would appear. This week’s candidate for Punk Piggy is a Hat Shop in Tennessee that made and advertised yellow star of David patches with “Not Vaccinated” written on them, echoing the holocaust badges Jewish people were made to wear by the Nazi regime. The defense of the hat stop badge makers? Ignorance not malicious intent. Res ipsa loquitar. The thing speaks for itself. The makers of the badge were clearly aware of the holocaust badges, replacing the word usually written on the yellow star by Nazis with ‘not vaccinated’. Since when was the death of six million Jews something to be poked fun at?

Now, I know it is socially acceptable to make jokes about the nuclear bombs being dropped on the Japanese – they lost, and human being being swinish as they can be, equate the massacre of women and children, with the Japanese hitting a military target with terrifying yet more conventional weapons, and weapons that don’t cause harm to future generations. I guess the reasoning is white lives are worth more than Japanese ones. Why didn’t they hit the Germans with a nuke and end it there? Too close to home? Blah blah lives saved. Not Japanese ones. Not the innocent women and children that were maimed and obliterated.

Japanese grandpa described the fear he felt as a small child, the fear and the hunger and the absolute gratitude that the Americans didn’t kill him too. He had a hero complex about American soldiers, idolizing them for giving his young boy self some chocolate instead of the bayonet. Dropping nuclear bombs on civilians to save losing allied soldiers never sat easy with me. That isn’t to say I enjoyed apologizing for the nukes when asked to do so – I didn’t fucking drop the bastards. I wasn’t even alive. Most Japanese people alive today also were not around to commit war atrocities, modern Japanese had nothing to do with it – it is a completely different (and redeemed) society, but still the fried rice jokes roll. Fellow humans, we have a lot to fucking learn.

That brings me to my candidate for swine of the week: Hatwrks of Tennessee, a hat shop. Now you might wonder what a mere hat shop down in music city could do to warrant such an award. They made, advertised and sold yellow fabric Stars of David, which looked exactly like the nazi holocaust badges that Jewish people were forced to wear to single them out during the holocaust…except in the middle ‘not vaccinated’ was written instead of ‘jude’….and they cost $5 each to buy, with the possibility of trucker hats being added to the disgustingly appropriative collection.

Now, I considered embedding photographs, but you all know what I mean, by these yellow fabric stars, they are infamous symbols of nazi hatred towards Jews, symbols of the holocaust. I am sure not one person reading this can claim to be absolutely unknowing of the expression of the symbol that I am talking about. To take the precious star of David and make it into an object of fear and oppression by a murderous regime always seemed so very cruel, but everybody is absolutely aware of how cruel the Nazis were. Even the holocaust deniers must know really what went down.

There is no way that Hatwrks didn’t know what they were doing. Of course they did. It was just that they didn’t see it as offensive or inappropriate, or else are so privileged they felt entitled to make a joke based on genocide and suffering. Dastardly swinish.

Since when was it ok to make jokes about the Holocaust? If any group was absolutely innocent in WW2 it would be the Jews. Since when was it ok to sell or wear a yellow star as a joke? At least there was some outrage in Tennessee, but the absolutely incredible thing to me was that the owners and manufacturers of these patches didn’t feel the need to stop and ask themselves what the fuck they were thinking and doing. It got worse when they appeared to defend their actions.

On their instagram the shop wrote “People are so outraged by my post? But are you outraged with the tyranny the world is experiencing? “If you don’t understand what is happening, that is on you, not me.”

So, once pulled on it, they doubled down….as the outrage intensified they decided to go with the ‘misunderstood’ defense – saying they didn’t mean to offend, that that was not the intent behind the $5 patches.

“My intent was not to exploit or make a profit. My hope was to share my genuine concern & fear, and to do all that I can to make sure that nothing like that ever happens again.”

Have you ever heard such self centered, self important, tone-deaf, gutter-dwelling garbage!

Sincere or not apologies for insensitivity aside, it is not really good enough, is it? “Sorry, peeps, I was a bit stupid, a bit insensitive, it is all on you, and not on me, because I didn’t know any better….and besides…I’m right” is both not a good look and not much good for anything when the hurt and damage is already done. I really don’t believe this shop was incapable of thinking it through and realizing that Nazi symbols on trucker hats and badges was not a great idea, especially with all the anti Semitic attacks that are happening throughout the world in recent weeks. The fact is that their actions suited their aims and goals and quite simply they didn’t care.

I see absolutely no indication that they care enough to try and understand. This is more malicious than willful ignorance, or else ignorance so determined it becomes malicious by default.

Stetson have broken ties with this hat company, which is promising, but I would rather see the people behind these patches educated that it is not their views on vaccinations that are the issue, it is the way they chose to express them, by appropriating something that is so offensive, so beyond the pale that to sell such things was indefensible. They were choosing to profit off genocide. They were happy to put people out on the street wearing yellow stars, and saw no wrong in it. This goes beyond “they didn’t mean it” all the way to, if you are going to do something like that you had better damn well mean it, because that symbol cost entire families, that symbol cost everything, it cost too much to sell it with a cute “not vaccinated” written on it, to be sold for five bucks by some couch cowboys in Tennessee.

Hatwrks. Punks of the Week. Take the Golden Beret of shame, and don’t ever hide behind your ignorance as a pathetic reason for the damage and hurt you caused.

…And the good Guys of the week…

….To balance this out, I would like to give a small but heartfelt shout out and a resounding round of applause for practicing kindness and humanity to Frena Bakery and Cafe (132 6th St, San Francisco, CA), a business who is doing actual social good. They are an Israeli bakery, which sells all kinds of lovely looking things (that I unfortunately can’t eat due to celiac disease), and also employs the previously incarcerated. The owner, Issac Yosef took a chance on a guy who had been in jail between the ages of 16 to 39, and while he was in there, had taught himself Hebrew in order to study the Bible more authentically and with deeper understanding. Mr Yosef gave this guy a chance, accepting this man had repented and changed his ways, and was rewarded with an excellent employee. Yosef has employed over 20 more men who had served long sentences. He is also known to work with the local Chabad house to feed the needy. There is an excellent episode of Earhustle, a podcast devoted to issues around incarceration ,all about Mr Yosef and his bakery. It is episode 56, if people are interested.

The most touching thing I heard in the podcast, and some real truth besides, was Issac insisting that

“A good commander doesn’t have to be the fastest or strongest or bravest, he just has to set a good example,” Yosef said. “If you do that, everyone will follow.”

That is what I will leave you with today – be the example you wish to be to others, live the change, embody the humane, instead of the swinish punk dribble that drags everybody else down with you.

5 Comments

  1. Ms Anthrope

    I get so sick of absurd comparisons to the Holocaust when some entitled group feels that their privilege is being infringed upon. They are diminishing a very real attempt at annihilation. It’s disgusting.

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