I believe the ball first started rolling after the decisive victory Germany earned in the semi-finals with Brazil. Rape and Nazi jokes started flooding social media. Reasons why analogies with rape for a sporting event is not just distasteful but appalling has been covered in this excellent article by Rashaam Chowdhury.
I wanted to talk about why I find it personally offensive to see posts equating a brilliant play of football by the German National team to the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazi regime during WWII. No doubt a team has to work hard to be able to compete in a global sporting event like the World Cup. But to glorify the heinous war crimes that decidely changed the course of history by comparing it to a football event where the winning team played to the best of their abilities is not just offensive, but it is idiotic.
I have lived in Germany for more than 5 years now. One of the most insightful things I’ve learnt in that time is that up until the 2006 World Cup, which was hosted by Germany, most Germans would not wave their flag or display any nationalistic pride. This seemed mind-boggling to me. In the country I come from, this would be unthinkable. I cannot imagine a sporting event or a national holiday that wouldn’t be awashed by the colors of the Bangladeshi flag. National pride is almost a hard currency that politics thrives with.
But in Germany, it is different. An entire generation, since WWII, have inherited institutionalized remorse and guilt that still makes them feel that it is not ok to take so much pride in the country. Germans whose parents were born even after the war have learnt to be humble. It is humility to the point where if you try to tell someone that Germany is viewed in a positive light around the world, they will look visibly uncomfortable and attempt to convince you otherwise. But things started to change in 2006, and Germans slowly started to come out of their shells. When there is a football match where Germany is playing, people dress in the colors of their national flag and don’t feel shy about celebrating.
This is precisely why I feel it is unacceptable to compare the war atrocities to the football game. God knows that Germany should celebrate their wins. Why shouldn’t they? Why should anyone stand for impossibly ludicrous comparisons? Germans have hung their heads in shame long enough.
While all these thoughts swirled in my head, Israel started their airstrikes on Gaza. The conflict between Palestine and Israel has gone on for so long that it’s almost difficult to get your head around why it has not yet been resolved. And the more I learn about it, the less I understand. There is no question that the world should be outraged by what is happening in Gaza right now. Until now, as many as 121 Palestinians, many of them children, have been killed since the air strikes started 5 days ago.
The situation is heartbreaking. It is preposterous. It defies all logic why the world should stand by and continue to let this happen. We should exert pressures on our respective governments to take a stand on this, and continue to mobilize popular support to ensure that the voices of the unheard are heard.
What we shouldn’t be doing is saying things like ‘Hitler should’ve killed all the Jews in the first place’. My head spins when I see posts floating through social media, from people within my own social network, making these claims. Be outraged. Be mortified. But do not legitimize the oppression on the Jewish community during the Holocaust. Dot not condone what Hitler did. One oppression does not justify another. Just as all Muslims are not terrorist, not all Jews want to decimate the Palestinians.
Please do not reference the SS or Hitler as you express your empathy for Palestine. Do not call Hitler visionary or anything akin to a leader. Do not be selective in your empathy. It is not just demeaning for Germans who have spent generations atoning for what its country has done to the world, it is demeaning to those that perished in the Holocaust, and it is certainly demeaning to those that are suffering in Palestine. It also normalizes what Israel is currently doing.
Making such statements does not make you less ignorant, more empathetic or more outraged. It just makes you an idiot. Do what you can for Palestine. But do not spread more ignorant hatred.