5/30/2005

Denying the Holocaust with Sensitivity


Today's challenge: create an animated sequence showcasing the rise and fall of World War II Naziism without making use of any of the following elements: swastikas, sieg heil! salutes, the Nazi eagle insignia, the SS insignia, goose-stepping, flags, barbed wire, chimneys, fire, smoke, death, or the colour red.

These are the directives handed down to me from our national public broadcaster.


Whatever You Do, Don't Mention The War

These sensitivity guidelines have been established in order that my cartoons do not inadvertently upset Jewish people, although I'm sure no Jewish person has yet been consulted on this specific matter. The feeling on the part of the gentile producers is that the best way to acknowledge the serious feelings people have about the holocaust is to pretend it didn't happen.

It is an expendible sub-plot of the war, in the name of dignity unmentionable.

Of course, it should be understood that my original concepts did not include bodies being bulldozed into mass graves or even spooky piles of pilfered watches. I wasn't out to make a point. But I admit I did think it was odd when they asked me if Hitler could "wave hello" rather than sieg heil!

We are asked to respect the holocaust by forgetting it, lest we accidentally earn the wrath of the anti-anti-semitism police and thereby alienate a highly desirable segment of the audience demographic.

This isn't my cause. I just think it's sad. I said, "Okay."


Vhatever You Do, Don't Mention Ze Veb

If you've been following along with my adventures, you might remember that I live in an old schoolhouse with my wife, my daughter, a zoo of animals, and a pair of in-laws who live downstairs. Old Oak, my father-in-law, and I had some conflict a few months ago over a web page. To make a long story very short, he wanted a simple web page to help sell his book, he got one, and then proceeded to lose the bookmark and over time become convinced the page didn't exist, and that I was therefore a dirty rotten untrustworthy selfish liar for deceiving him.

When I attempted to clarify the situation for him he became abusive and loud. This is not the way of my people, so I suggested we break off talks and resume with clearer heads. He screamed profanity in my face and made impolite remarks about my character, so I asked him to leave my house and go home. This was interpreted as highly impertinent, and so he was sore at me for about two months.

During these two months I endeavoured to exercise a Zen-like attitude with respect to the old man, ignoring his attempts to punish me by petty disfavours, working with him out in the yard, chatting him up friendly. As the weeks passed his bristles settled.

Then yesterday I saw him loading up the trailer with material to take to the cottage, so I went out to offer him a hand. Inexplicably, he took the opportunity to lay into me for not taking time off work to help fix up the cottage. Deciding he was in a distemper I smiled and nodded and started my way back up the stairs. "You von't go out of your vay, no -- because it is not conwenient for you to take the time you von't." And on and on, becoming more blatantly insulting with every word.

I paused on the stairs. Didn't I just loan this man a thousand dollars so that he could even get to the cottage? Does he imagine the electricity he uses comes out of the free generating station in my rectum? Does he imagine I work seven days a week for kicks?

But I quieted my inner flash of irritation at his senile petulance. I continued up the stairs.

He said, "It's just the same as that veb page, ja..."

I stopped. Words welled up inside of me. For a moment I thought I was willing to patiently explain the whole thing to him again, but instead what came out was, "Are you kidding me?"

"I don't understand."

"That, sir, is precisely the point. And because you don't understand you're willing to flush away months of good will! You've got to be kidding me. What do you hope to accomplish?"

"That is neither here nor there. The bottom line is that you are not a man of your vord!"

"No, the bottom line is that you: are: a fucking: idiot."

Yeah, so...so much for diplomacy. That was the end of our conversation. I went back in the house, he went to the cottage. I think it is fair to say that the negotiations have suffered a serious setback. I know I shouldn't have allowed myself to be baited. I was tired, and his attack blindsided me.

But he's seventy and has a brain injury (years ago an irate co-worker clocked him with metal girder, and dented his forebrain in the course of an argument). I try to be understanding. But I raised in a home where logic was expected to prevail, not even in but especially in times of conflict. If you're too hot headed to remain rational, you take five. If someone is arguing against your position you respond with civil on-topic debate, not with emotional barbs and character assassination.

It's called being civilized. Or at least it used to be, when it was permitted to use such metrics across cultures.

I admit I am challenged when I am faced with uncivil ape people, who whinny whatever reactionary defensive tripe enters their heads without a moment's thought. I am at a loss when faced with people who baselessly imagine I have some interest in absorbing abuse from them for not sharing their point of view. I'm honestly stumped when people assert their views by screaming.

All I can think to do is peel a banana and offer it to them. "Low blood sugar?"

Anyway, when Old Oak went off I didn't have any fruit handy. Maybe I had low blood sugar, since after all I was the one who blurted out the whole "fucking idiot" evaluation. I am curious to see how he shall seek retribution when he returns from up north, for seek retribution he surely will.

I'm going to buy some bananas.


Whatever You Do, Don't Feed Them After Midnight

I'm supposed to be asleep. I have a list of things to do as long as Santa Claus' and the things nag at me. I have alloted myself seven more minutes, and then I'm turning this computer off (again) and taking a little white pill that will cause me to rest without dreams.

Here's a short update on the status of some top items:

Commissions
If you've paid for a commission and seen no action, fret not. I'm still on it, despite my lack of communication on the subject. You will all get your stuff. You know who you are.

Signed Books
The last of the promised signed editions of 17 Drawings went off today. Tomorrow or the next day I will get around to letting you know how much it cost. You should finally have your books in your hands by next week if you live in North America.

The New Blogfiction
Research phase continues. Chatted with a fellow about brains last night, to make sure all my eyes are dotted and my tease are crossed before I jump into it. If you missed any earlier announcements about it, it will be a science fiction novel told in a series of diary entries over a period of several months. URI to be decided.

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Cheeseburger
This self-published compendium of autobiographical novellas is being tirelessly edited by my faithful and beautiful wife Littlestar, in between her job and looking after the toddler. At this point I hope to have this title available by mid-summer, but her attention has many demands on it.

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera
If you've written to me about something else and haven't heard back, I apologize. I'm still working my way through the mountain of e-mail coming in the wake of The Darth Side.

My time is up. I have a date with the sandman.


3 comments:

anne said...

I read the shit soup story.

Give the old man what he wants.

WTL said...

That really is too bad. The probable worst part is if you apologize for calling him a fucking idiot, it will probably only make it worse.

Everyone has a point where they will push back (verbally and/or physically), and it varies from day to day. I'm not sure what the solution is.

Maybe if his site shows up on Archive.org, it will "prove" it was online when you said it was. Maybe not.

Tomorrow will be better. Probably. ;-)

grape said...

On the subject of Nazis and being Jewish, I do not want to see anyone with a moustache or a uniform, please.

On the subject of your father-in-law: don't feel bad that he pushed your buttons. It doesn't make you a bad person. But I agree, fruit is marginally less harmful than steel girders. I'm interested to know a) what happens when you throw fruit at him and b) what Littlestar has to say about all this.

On the subject of taking pills to sleep...umm...concern?