Voice from the Rooftop

Blog of Vincent Augustine D'Souza

Tag: Jews

Hitler Store

Last year some Jews objected to the title of a TV serial Hitler Didi. Some Indians who generally support freedom of speech and expression supported the Jews. I wrote in favour of the title. The producers held on to the title.

This time a store in Ahmedabad is under attack for its name, Hitler men’s garment store. The proprietors said they decided to change the name due to political pressure and it may take a few days to change the shop’s board.

Israeli Consul General Orna Sagiv was in Ahmedabad on 3/9/2012. Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) had received many e-mails demanding a change of name. Employees of AMC visited the shop and showed the copies of e-mails to proprietors. Proprietors used to get at least 10 calls daily from USA, UK, Dubai, Germany and Israel, many at odd hours.

Americans make fun of many things. Sometimes some Indians get hurt. Jay Leno once showed the picture of Golden Temple as Mitt Romney’s summer palace. Sikhs were offended. Indian government protested. American government spoke of freedom of speech and expression. When after Assam riots Indian government shut down some sites and pages because they were posting misleading and provocative content with morphed pictures that led to threats and attacks of people of North-East and demanded to know the ownership of miscreants from Facebook and Twitter, American government spoke of internet freedom. Here AMC instead of defending freedom of speech and expression succumbed to pressure.

George Washington and Thomas Jefferson owned slaves. Thomas Jefferson had at least six children from a slave, Sally Hemings. Abraham Lincoln ordered terrorist activities against Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Harry Truman ordered dropping of atom bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. There is no demand to change the names of Washington DC, Washington State, and many places and institutes named after George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln, and Harry Truman.

White Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP) immigrants to USA killed “Indians” and conquered their lands. Surviving Indians were confined to reservations. These Wasps are heroes for their descendants. Hitler was like Wasps. The difference was that Wasps kept their conquered territories, Hitler lost.

Many in USA and Europe defended Danish cartoons. When there were protests more newspapers published the cartoons. Hitler has admirers even in Russia. AMC should permit the name Hitler and tell protestors India has freedom of speech and expression.

Hitler Didi should remain

A Jewish group known as Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has objected to the title of a serial Hitler Didi on Zee TV. Some in India support them and say the channel should drop the title and find something else.

It seems there are two standards; one for Jews, one for others. When some people do something like books, cartoons, films, TV serials and paintings, that offends Christians, Hindus and Muslims these people speak freedom of speech and expression. They advocate tolerance and say freedom of speech and expression is meaningless if something that offends someone is excluded. When something offends Jews it must be banned. There is no discussion. There is no talk of freedom of speech and expression, tolerance and the right to offend.

When I first heard Mahmoud Ahmadinejad say in some European countries people can be put in jail for denying Holocaust I thought it was a joke. Later I came to know it was a fact and at least one author was jailed for his book on Holocaust. A journalist who covered White House since 1960 lost her accreditation because she said Jews in Israel and Palestine are outsiders and they should go back to where they came from like America, Russia, Poland and England.

In India somebody or the other finds something or the other offensive and there are many restrictions and Books, magazines, films and TV serials. If Indian film and TV serial makers have to change something because in a foreign country some people find something offensive then that is further restriction on creativity. If the Jews had their way The Passion of the Christ would not have been shown in theatres. There was one restaurant in Nagpur named after Hitler and the Jews put pressure on him to change the name. No self-styled liberal or votary of free speech came in his defence.

If Hitler was evil so were his enemies. What about the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? What about incendiary bombs on Dresden? Winston Churchill and Harry Truman are not better than Adolf Hitler. More people died under Joseph Stalin than under Adolf Hitler. What about Israel’s evil towards Palestinians?

It is not for someone in America to dictate what should not be a TV serial title in India. What are the Jews doing today in Israel and Palestine? USA speaks of people’s rights in Egypt, Tunisia, Syria, Libya, Bahrain and Yemen. It does not speak of the rights of Palestinians. It has threatened to veto UN membership for Palestine. When UNESCO admitted Palestine, USA, Canada and Israel cut off funding to UNESCO. They should be expelled from UNESCO.

Hitler may have been a fascist dictator and mass murderer but he was not the only one. There have been many like him before and after him. Hitler was a friend of India. He helped Subhash Chandra Bose fight the British. Rudolf Hess came to Britain with a message of peace and Churchill put him in jail. World War II weakened UK and facilitated India’s independence. For some Hitler may be a villain of incomparable evil but for some he is a hero. India has many admirers of Hitler.

Zee TV should ignore ADL and keep the title Hitler Didi.

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