It’s not funny. It’s not a joke. It doesn’t make you well-liked or more popular. It makes you a coward. In an article recently published in the news, students at a party were caught making a swastika out of red solo cups and throwing up Nazi salutes. When I saw this in the news, all I could ask myself was why. Why has the rate of antisemitism gone up over 50% in the past few years? I used to blame it on complete and utter obliviousness, but even when I bring anti-Semitism up to friends at school, they laugh it off and make me feel wrong for mentioning it. It’s almost as if they are uncomfortable at the fact that the Jewish people, my people, are still being treated unfairly. There is proof in the media more often than there should be of anti-Semitism, so why don’t they believe what they see?
They don’t have the guts to acknowledge that when they crack Jewish jokes, make me feel bad for missing school for the holidays, or say that BBYO seems “like a cult.” And if they can’t see what they are doing wrong, they have no chance of seeing the bigger picture of anti-Semitism.
A plethora of students gathered around a red-solo cup swastika. In multiple videos and photos posted to social media, they were seen saluting the symbol, laughing, and cheering. The kids seemed to be having fun at a party, but their fun should not be at the expense of hurting others. It completely baffles me that people don’t see the wrong they are doing, especially with the state of the world today and how public hate crimes are. The teens in the photo were received with overwhelming disgust from the world. A few local Jews in the area decided that the impressionable young minds, while extremely wrong, were completely oblivious to their wrongdoings.
Many of the kids at the party have since been educated about the Holocaust; visiting museums, hearing speakers, and being immersed in Jewish culture. While not every student learned from their mistakes, there have been multiple accounts of students coming forward and admitting to their wrongdoings.
Now, switch it up. You are at that party. Instead of making a swastika, the cups are formed into some grotesque symbol that is extremely offensive to another culture. No matter who you are, if you have a conscience, you should be able to tell that this is wrong. People at that party, even if they were having fun and getting some laughs over the swastika, knew it was wrong, but they weren’t brave enough to speak up. They couldn’t speak up. Could you?
It’s harder than it seems to stand up for what you believe in, especially when it’s in the moment. What these students did is borderline unforgivable, but it demonstrated why we should all strive to be the person who has the bravery to say, “Stop.” when no one else can. If you were there, would you have been able to shut down the madness before it blew up the media?
Abigail Kraden is a BBG from Northern Region East: Northern Virginia Council who plays field hockey, loves ice cream, and has a labradoodle named Cocoa.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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