Are Racist* Remarks Ever Forgivable?

3 Mar

It’s been a big week for the Jews! Anti-semitism is in the news! And, on top of that, this week the Pope officially wrote (in an excerpt released from his book) that Jews did not kill Jesus (whew, thanks for clearing that up).

While I might be flippant about it here, it’s a big deal! Anything that help curb anti-semitism (and hate in general) is something to support.

However, the anti-Semites are getting big news too. Whether it’s Charlie Sheen, who is saying so much crazy stuff it’s hard to keep track of, or John Galliano.


It’s the Galliano incident that has prompted my subject line. For those of you not into fashion, Galliano was the designer at Dior until he was caught telling people that he “loved Hitler” and wished he had been more successful at gassing their relatives. When video was released (and I would post it but I don’t think it’s available on-line anymore), he was promptly fired.

Here’s the AP story:

While most people have been openly approving of this, (and even gal-pal and Super-Jew Natalie Portman has come out to say

I am deeply shocked and disgusted by the video. In light of this video, and as an individual who is proud to be Jewish, I will not be associated with Mr. Galliano in any way. I hope at the very least, these terrible comments remind us to reflect and act upon combating these still-existing prejudices that are the opposite of all that is beautiful. via

and she’s the spokesmodel for one of Dior’s perfumes right now)  there are a few others who have come forward to criticize those “attacking” Galliano because he was drunk at the time he said these things.

To me, this is the questionable argument. No matter how plastered drunk I was I would never in a million years say what he said. Now, I’m Jewish, so maybe that makes this argument null. But, I wouldn’t say a similar statement say, about those whose ancestors were slaves. Or those whose ancestors were killed for any other reasons. In fact, I don’t care how angry I am, I don’t speak hate.

The same issue arose with Mel Gibson and there were people who came out to support him… but if it was your friend caught saying these things, would you stand up for them? Would you be caught doing it yourself?

So that’s my question, would you say something like this when drunk? Do you?

OR (less self-incriminating)

Do you think the fact that he was drunk is reason to forgive his actions at all?


*Also, I know I’m referring to these remarks as racist… it’s because it’s the easiest word to identify emotionally the feeling behind what he’s doing. Let’s save the discussion of whether or not Judaism can be considered a “race” and therefore whether or not anti-semitism is “racism” for another day, ok?


7 Responses to “Are Racist* Remarks Ever Forgivable?”

  1. Mariella March 3, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    Oh Shana… you can very well imagine how much I have to say about that… And everything I have to say about it links directly to the fact that I am German. I have no understanding whatsoever for people making remarks like those you mentioned under any cirumstance at all. My newest anecdote I can contribute dates back to last June. I was in Istanbul and met two Libanese guys in the palace gardens who were playing the guitar. I started singing aloing, we started chatting, it was all very nice when one of the guys asks me what we think about Hitler back in Germany. I mean, what kind of a question is that! I couldn’t even make an eloquent response, instead I said somewhat sarcastically: “That he was an evil evil man?” And the guy asked: “Is that because YOU think that or is it because you were taught to think that?” I was so dumbstruck that I basically just left without another word. I don’t usually have a hard time expressing my point, but sometimes there is just no common ground you can start communicating from. The worst thing is that the guy was not stupid. Ignorance I can forgive, I have met it many times when it came to referencing the Holocaust. You tell people a bit about it, they see your point, you part with everyone having learned something. But the people who know what they’re saying when they claim to “love Hitler” and know about the historical background, those are the ones who are dangerous. And they will make those statements both drunk and sober.

    • redshana March 3, 2011 at 5:01 pm #

      Last summer I got to meet with a Holocaust survivor, she was amazing. But it was sad because her main message was to ask us to spread her story because there see still those in the world who think the Holocaust is made up.
      I agree, hate speech is never okay because it makes light of issues that are still as serious as ever.

  2. Riki March 3, 2011 at 8:53 pm #

    This is a tough one. Personally, I don’t tolerate, support, or speak hate drunk or sober either, Shana, so that wouldn’t be an issue for myself, but if a friend said something horribly racist/sexist/offensive when drunk, I couldn’t back them up. I would question them when they were sober as to why in the world they would say something like that, whatever they had said, and say that I honestly question their character since you are just far less inhibited when you are drunk. I would also question our friendship, honestly, as I wouldn’t understand how I could be friends with someone who spreads hate.
    Now, you get into the free speech argument- anti-Semites, members of the KKK, etc., are free to express their opinions in the U.S. through good ol’ free speech as long as they aren’t immediately threatening someone (I hate Jews vs. I hate Jews and we should kill them all). In France, apparently anti-Semitism is illegal, which I didn’t know until this episode. The things you learn.

    As an aside, Shana, did you know I’ve been going to temple? Mitzpah in Chattanooga – a Reform Judaism temple at McCallie and Fort Wood. I’ve been going for about a month now.

    • redshana March 4, 2011 at 12:26 am #

      Thanks for your in-put, I agree. While I completely believe everyone has the right to express themselves, I would have a hard time being friends with someone who spouted this stuff sober or drunk.

      I went to Mitzpah a couple of times, it’s a nice place! The building looks a bit like a church though, right? Funny stuff… does the rabbi still wear bow ties?

      • Riki March 4, 2011 at 3:38 am #

        Ha, I don’t even know what it looks like from the outside because I always come in from the back. It is in the middle of a bunch of UTC frat houses.
        The Rabbi now is fairly new, but I don’t know how long he’s been there. I’ve seen pics of bow-tie man – I think his name was Rabbi Lief. Rabbi Tepper is there now and he’s hilarious. He’s from Toronto and his degree before going to Rabbinical school was Drama, so he’s a fun guy.

  3. AliMali March 4, 2011 at 3:42 am #

    I am a firm believer that you don’t say or do anything drunk that you hadn’t already at least thought of doing sober. Being drunk lowers your inhibitions, it doesn’t change who you are. For the most part, who you are drunk is who you are sober, just exaggerated.

    • AliMali March 4, 2011 at 3:46 am #

      So basically, if your racism comes out when drunk, it’s there when you’re sober, just a little more hidden by social protocol and political correctness. I don’t think I’d want to be friends with those people, drunk OR sober…

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