The Volokh Conspiracy

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Redefining "Anti-Semitism" in the Gina Carano Controversy? Or Just Inaccurate Reporting?


The Chicago Sun-Times has this headline over an AP story (the headline appears to be from the Sun-Times, not the AP):

Gina Carano fired from 'Mandalorian' after anti-Semitic social media post

The story begins:

Lucasfilm says Gina Carano is no longer a part of "The Mandalorian" cast after many online called for her firing over a social media post that likened the experience of Jews during the Holocaust to the U.S. political climate.

A spokesperson with the production company said in a statement on Wednesday that Carano is not currently employed by Lucasfilm with "no plans for her to be in the future."

"Nevertheless, her social media posts denigrating people based on their cultural and religious identities are abhorrent and unacceptable," the statement read.

Carano fell under heavy criticism after she posted that "Jews were beaten in the streets, not by Nazi soldiers but by their neighbors…. even by children."

The actor continued to say, "Because history is edited, most people today don't realize that to get to the point where Nazi soldiers could easily round up thousands of Jews, the government first made their own neighbors hate them simply for being Jews. How is that any different from hating someone for their political views?"

USA Today likewise labels the story "anti-Semitic."

I don't buy it. I think overheated analogies to Nazism are rarely sound, whether they are analogizing the treatment of American conservatives to the treatment of German Jews, calling American politicians Hitler, or, in one memorable e-mail I got a few months ago, "We are not Jews living in Germany in the 1930s, Blacks in America are, every day is like Kristallnacht." (On Kristallnacht, 90 Jews were murdered because they were Jewish, out of a population of 1 million in Germany and Austria, more than 1000 synagogues were burned, and there was much more as well; thankfully, that isn't happening any day, much less every day, to any group in America.)

But this is not anti-Semitism, under any established or sensible definition of anti-Semitism. It isn't "denigrating [Jews] based on their cultural and religious identities." It isn't expressing hostility to Jews because they are Jewish. Indeed, the premise of the analogy is that Jews were wrongly hated, and that, she argues, conservatives are analogously wrongly hated today.

A Newsweek story mentions that Carano was under fire in December for posting this meme that "espouses the anti-semitic consp[i]racy theory that a cabal of rich Jews run the world":

But while this was apparently based on an apparently anti-Semitic London mural, it's far from clear that she knew that backstory, especially given that this version (which is different than the original) doesn't seem to use any obviously Jewish faces. These seem to me like generic elderly white rich men, who don't even necessarily seem to be bankers as such, as opposed to just powerful businessmen. (The one guy on the right seems more identifiably Jewish to me, though who knows, but the others look like any old white guy in a suit.) Someone not up on the fine points of such debates (whether in England or as to the image being worn by some in the March on Washington or passed along by Ice Cube) can easily pass it along without perceiving it as being about Jews. And in any event, the anti-Semitism allegations in the USA Today, Chicago Sun-Times, and other news stories focused on the Nazis-demonizing-Jews post, not the mural post.

Let me return to my first point: It's bad to dilute the significance of the Holocaust in the public mind by analogizing all misbehavior to the Nazis' treatment of Jews; it both wrongly minimizes what the Nazis did, and it's not really honest. But it seems even worse to dilute the significance of the label "anti-Semitism," by labeling such faulty analogies anti-Semitic.

UPDATE: Robby Soave (Reason) has more, including a pointer to a Tweet by Carano's costar Pedro Pascal, who has apparently posted overheated Nazi comparisons of his own: