I woke up this morning to a rather long, and surprising, comment in this blog’s comment queue, in response to my post a few weeks ago about Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony tickets being on sale. (And there are still good seats left!)
The theme of this year’s Igs is “Risk,” and the ceremony will kick off with a pre-show “Risk Cabaret” featuring songs by the “Penny-Wise Guys,” who will be “presenting juicy cabaret songs about risk, reward, and Bernie Madoff.”
What’s not to like?
Quite a bit, as far as our commenter is concerned. (He also posted his comment on his blog — which otherwise appears to be entirely dedicated to examining the difference between reading on paper and reading on a computer screen — here, and here, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find his objections popping up elsewhere over the next few days, either.)
Mr. Bloom is concerned that our mockery of Bernie Madoff will add fuel to the fire of anti-Semitism, you see:
Why not pay tribute to Mr Sanford [sic] or Danny Pang of Taiwan, and other world ponzi schemers? Why focus just on the Jewish guy? Of course, there is no antisemitic intention on the part of the Ig Nobel people, they are Jewish people themselves. But by putting on this “SHOW” about Bernie Madoff, who is a known Jewish man among hundreds of antisemitic bloggers around the world — just google “antisemitism + Bernie Madoff” and you will see — the organizers of this show risk– RISK – creating MORE antisemitism online and in newspaper comment sections when the news of this SHOW comes out in the media, worldwide. Oi.
Now, if we were planning to do a cabaret called, say, “Bernie Madoff: 21st Century Shylock” in which a hook-nosed, yarmulke-clad Madoff danced around to a parody of Cyndi Lauper entitled “Jews Just Wanna Have Gelt,” yes, I could see grounds for concern. But we’re not doing that, nor does Mr. Bloom have any reason whatsoever to believe that we are.
When a member of our in-group — our race, our religion, our profession, our political party — does wrong, should we call them out with appropriate mockery or punishment? Or should we sweep it under the rug and pretend it didn’t happen because “he’s one of ours”?
Which course of action do you really think will lead to more stereotyping? And leaving that question aside — because there are, in fact, more important questions in the world than “But what will the goyim/whites/Yankees fans/Democrats/customers think of us” — which is the right thing to do?
I know what I think is the right thing, and it’s what my husband is doing. (Of course, if Mr. Bloom is right and Mr. Improbable does get a reputation as a terrible anti-Semite, I’ll at least be spared the awkward annual conversation with my synagogue’s dues committee about why I claim “single” instead of “family” membership.)
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