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Adult Ed Lecture: Jeffrey Demsky
Saturday, January 9, 2021 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
“Ahchoo! Ahchoo! Let’s Blame the Jews: Disease Tropes in Covid-19 Cartoons and Memes”
Pandemics breed more than disease. Viruses provoke scapegoating and Jews are common targets. Seven hundred years ago, Bubonic Plague lore cast them as social toxins. Martin Luther’s writings, Protocols’ claims, Nazi discourses, and, currently, “alt right” websites have maintained this negative branding. During the Covid-19 outbreak, slurs of “Jew Flu” and “Holocoughs” reveal an old wisdom, namely that Jews living in majority Christian nations face increased negative scrutiny during trying times. This talk assembles and analyzes dozens of these current images, situated alongside earlier historical examples. I will focus on American cartoonist Ben Garrison whose drawings disseminate Covid-19 antisemitism and which are occasionally retweeted by President Trump. Garrison rehashes familiar anti-Rothschild and anti-Soros smears. Notably, he implicates Christians—namely Anthony Fauci—into his anti-Jewish critiques. He also reassigns Nazi and Holocaust imagery to “Jewish” scientists, depicting them as trying to enslave Christendom via their mask wearing mandates and inoculations.
Jeffrey Demsky is an Associate Professor of Political Science and History at San Bernardino Valley College. The University of Florida awarded his doctorate in US History. He completed his Master’s Degree in modern European History at the American University in Washington D.C.
Dr. Demsky’s scholarship exists at the intersection of western popular culture and Holocaust representation. His work analyzes its portrayal in Anglo-American theatre, film, music, television programs, and Internet sites. He has presented his work at many global conference and his articles and essays have appeared in American, British, Canadian, Dutch, French, and German publications.
His forthcoming book Irreverent Remembrance: Nazi and Holocaust Representations in Anglo-American Popular Culture, 1945-2020 explores how cheeky representations of this history, while violating expectations for solemnity in depicting the Holocaust, can promote awareness of it, especially among uninitiated twenty-first century learners.