I’ve always rather enjoyed Billy Joel’s music. Learning that he is a Grade A idiot shouldn’t in theory prevent me doing so in future, but we’ll have to see.
One can understand Mr Joel wanting to respond to the events in Charlottesville earlier this month. As he rightly put it, citing Burke: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”
But if you went out of your way to find the most crass, infantile, ignorant, stupid, offensive response to make, donning a yellow star would be difficult to beat.
Presumably Mr Joel was thinking that he was ‘reclaiming’ it in some way, much as some black people ‘reclaim’ the N-word.
But it’s not his to reclaim. It’s not mine. It’s not anyone’s, however much they might want the world to know they’re Jewish, or that they love Jews just SO MUCH.
The only people it’s theirs to reclaim are survivors.
And I seem to have missed the pictures of survivors donning their yellow stars again as a fashion accessory.
Because make no mistake, that’s what this is – virtue signalling in the worst possible taste.
Days after Mr Joel fixed a yellow star to his lapel, so followed one Nev Schulman at the MTV Video Music Awards in Los Angeles on Sunday night.
Mr Schulman is described in one report as “an actor and producer”. The description leaves out the most salient point: half-wit.
Wearing his bright red blazer on the red carpet he had a yellow star on his chest. Later, he posted this on Twitter: “We cannot tolerate hate against any group or identity. I’m proud to be Jewish. #lovewins.”
Quite right, too. But you do not express your pride in being Jewish, or your revulsion against hate, by donning the Nazi yellow star as a fashion statement of that supposed pride. All you do is insult those survivors who lived through the Shoah, and who did not wear their yellow stars to draw media attention to themselves but because they were forced to do by the Third Reich.
The likes of Mr Joel and Mr Schulman have many avenues open to them to lodge their protest at what happened in Charlottesville, and Donald Trump’s reaction. They have many symbols, too, if words prove too difficult for them. But here’s a suggestion: don’t think you’re being clever when you use the Shoah to show how much you care. All you do is show the opposite.