Jewish leaders condemn Kahele campaign’s use of ‘Mr. Men’ meme, saying it resembles Hitler
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - An already heated Democratic gubernatorial primary now includes an allegation of hate speech.
Members of the local Jewish community say Congressman Kai Kahele’s campaign should apologize for using a caricature they said resembles Adolf Hitler.
“To us, that kind of a meme is totally, totally unacceptable,” said Rabbi Itchel Krasnjansky of Chabad Hawaii. “It’s anti-Semitic and has no place in Hawaii or anywhere anywhere in the country.”
The meme is part of a trend on social media with so-called ‘Mr. Men’ and ‘Little Miss’ memes.
Widely spread on Instagram, the viral cartoons are re-posted by users with their own new language — oftentimes to make fun of themselves or others.
Kahele’s take on the meme — ‘Mr. Release Your Records’ — mimics his demand that Green disclose financial records of his medical service company.
Kahele said complaints about the meme are an effort to distract voters from that issue.
But given the likeness of the image to Hitler and the history of Jews being forced to show their papers in Nazi Germany, local Jewish leaders said Kahele’s use of the meme is offensive — especially when it’s used against a Jewish opponent.
“You can make light and no one should use it even in jest,” Krasnjansky said. “Hitler and the Nazis were the greatest murderers in the history of mankind and of murderers of innocent people.”
In a statement, Kahele’s campaign denied the allegation.
“Neither the original meme photo as it exists ... nor our usage of the meme, intends to harbor any hateful speech, expression, or message based on race, ethnicity, or religious affiliation,” Kahele said.
Green’s father is Jewish, his mother was raised Christian and several of Green’s aunts and uncles are Holocaust survivors. He has also been previously attacked with anti-Semitic images.
During one of many anti-vaccination rallies, protesters placed posters attacking Green’s Jewish heritage outside of his downtown apartment.
“There’s no words that can express the hurt,” said Krasnjansky. “There’s so many survivors, many Holocaust survivors are alive today. And surely children of Holocaust survivors living here in Hawaii.”
Green’s campaign had no immediate comment.
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