The Octopus Now Enfolds Me/ I Know You Too Well*


The NRA's already having a pretty bad week, so how about everyone pile on and accuse it of anti-Semitism?

After Diane Cardwell of The Times wrote about a National Rifle Association magazine's broadside aimed at Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and his gun proposals, a reader raised an issue about the image on the cover (at right), showing the Jewish mayor as an octopus. According to the sites, the image has been used in anti-Semitic propaganda, from the Nazis to the modern Arab world.

The Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has an overview of anti-Jewish motifs and symbols, including a 2002 cartoon from Russia that "shows a Star of David with America throwing coins on it. The star then mutates into an octopus with rockets and planes in its tentacles."

Ben Smith gets into the ring with the obviously-befuddled NRA spokeswoman.

"Any use of it as any sort of anti-Semitic symbol is inadvertent and unintentional." She can't literally mean that any use of it as anti-Semitic was unintentional (the history is pretty intentional); and she probably didn't mean to concede that the NRA's use of it was anti-Semitic. But the quote seems to do both.

And according to one source she has cancer and is quitting the NRA. Kidding!

This is all deeply stupid. The Jew/Israel-as-octopus image is used to smear the chosen people as the forces behind a huge conspiracy. Bloomberg isn't being conspiratorial—he's openly building a coalition of city mayors to tighten their gun laws. It's perfectly normal (and subtly hentai) to think "tentacles!" as a way to portray that on a magazine cover.

*I almost hope that no one gets this reference.