Okay, just as I am nearly about to concede that most people are acting primarily out of concern and information available, even if that information is sometimes misinformation, when some reprehensible creation has to prove me wrong. Enter Foreskin Man. So how like the propaganda of nineteen thirties Germany, to depict the caricature of the bad, evil, scary Jew who will do something unspeakable, with, usually, enough left unsaid that the imagination runs wild. But Foreskin Man leaves no spurious image or wearisome stereotype left to our imagining. And frankly nothing here seems to be all that mysterious.
Even the people who will decry that the Jewish people always claim anti-Semitism in the face of opposition will have a difficult time ignoring the very blond super hero “Foreskin Man” or his darker skinned and exaggerated featured nemesis, the Model Monster. Even if one could block out the less than subtle stereotypes, then enter the ridiculous gore-ifying of the religious rite beyond any recognition. The cover of the particular issue I saw shows the mother shielding the child protectively. Umm. The mother who likely called the Mohel and requested his services, you mean? Seriously. Not to mention his blood spattered shirt.
from Foreskin Man
The writer of the comic is Matthew Hess, who says that the comic is not intended to be Anti- Semitic. According to Hess, "It takes an unflinching look at the practice of circumcising children, as well as those who perform it. The characters are drawn accordingly to convey that message." If I take him at his word, then I can’t help worrying more than a little bit about what true colors and unspoken bias Mr. Hess might be unintentionally channeling through his art.
So far the Anti Defamation League has sited the comic for “grotesque antisemitic imagery and themes”. And Nancy Appel of ADL associates said, “This is an advocacy campaign taken to a new low. It is one thing to debate it, is another thing to degrade it. This reaches a new low and is disrespectful and deeply offensive." But these remarks have not kept the comic from supportive pages on Facebook or items being marketed at Café Press. (Please feel free to call them or write emails to express your displeasure.)
One can’t help but wonder about how Hess’ group, Male Genital Mutilation Bill, feels the argument is going if they are willing to resort to this type of propaganda. Not well, I’d surmise, if the comic book is any evidence. (If only there were a white, very blond, super hero with Nordic features to tell people what to think!) I’d like to believe that popular culture definitions of an issue wont make a difference, except to those most limited or on the fringe of society. But history has proved this belief wrong.
In the interest of fighting popular culture with popular culture, I recall the character of George Castanza of Seinfeld fame, who gave this advice in a sketch, “It’s not a lie, if you believe it.” If George where a real person, I would be compelled to remind him- that yes, yes it still is a lie, even if you choose to believe it.