17

Pardon me if this is not the right site to ask this question. I can take it down if necessary.

Reading the news after four people were stabbed in protester-counterprotester clashes in Washington, DC — this image from npr.org — I came across this picture:

counterprotesters

(It should come out as a spoiler because it contains potentially offensive imagery and expressions.)

It's pretty clear that these are very far-left protesters. "Black Lives Matter," and the more radical "Ch**** la Migra," "Defund the Police," and "We keep us safe" signs make that pretty obvious.

However, what I'm confused about is the center sign — "Jews will replace you." I'm not familiar with that phrase, but it sounds (at least to me, a non-Jewish person) very, very antisemitic. It seems more in tune with the Proud Boys and other groups on the opposing side, bringing to mind all those crazy conspiracy theories of Zionism and George Soros and Jews controlling the world. I… guess it can be interpreted as radically anti-antisemitic, but it really doesn't sound like that.

Although the person holding the shield is clearly a counterprotester, and antisemitism is not really what they're famous for. Is this is the latter interpretation then?

But what I'm asking here is what that expression usually means. Is this exact phrase used often, or was it invented with that painted shield? If the former, is it used more often in an antisemitic context or is it meant to strongly oppose antisemitism? Why would an ostensibly far-left counterprotester show it when many of the far-right protesters they are countering (especially the Proud Boys, various other groups, and anyone seen with a "white power" gesture) believe in exactly that?

I realize I'm dealing with an especially delicate subject here. Please tell me if there is anything even remotely offensive with this post, or even if there are any awful grammar issues here, and correct them. Thank you in advance.

5
  • 7
    While anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, and so forth certainly influence politics, I do not think the question of whether serving is or is not anti-Semitic is a question about politics, government, or political processes. What context it is used in is on-topic, but the question does not really focus on that. – Obie 2.0 Dec 14 '20 at 1:21
  • @Obie2.0 Okay. What would you suggest to improve this question? Or what site should I repost this on? – Palbitt Dec 14 '20 at 2:07
  • 4
    @Obie2.0 In this context, it is a political question. It's mocking a slogan advocating political action. – Acccumulation Dec 15 '20 at 5:16
  • 4
    @Accumulation - The question of what it means to those who use it or whether it tends to be used by avowed anti-Semitic groups is a political question. The question of whether it "is" anti-Semitic is not, and is probably highly subjective to boot. Some might say "No, they mean it ironically and the purpose is to criticize anti-Semitic conspiracy theories," while others might say "Irony and positive intent don't necessarily eliminate the intrinsic character of a symbol", and still others might say "Its effect on (possibly only Jewish) observers is what matters, positive or negative". – Obie 2.0 Dec 15 '20 at 5:41
  • So... in retrospect I probably should have expected that this post would cause trouble on this site. It's already been closed and reopened, and @Obie2.0 you're right, it doesn't fit in this site. Should I close it or delete it? Is there any reason not to take it down that I don't know about? – Palbitt Dec 15 '20 at 19:15
50

It's a taunt, based on the chant "Jews will not replace us" famous for being used by far right groups at Charlottesville. The intent is almost certainly to incite a reaction, not to make an actual statement for or against the Jewish faith.

5
  • Indeed, sometimes stated as "You Will Not Replace Us " – Fizz Dec 14 '20 at 1:47
  • 14
    As for the counter, a bit more googling finds the more clearly ironic variant "Mexican Jews will replace you" or even "The Reptilian space Jews will replace you". – Fizz Dec 14 '20 at 1:58
  • 3
    Oddly enough the latter is in reference to an actual conspiracy theory again... en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reptilian_conspiracy_theory – Fizz Dec 14 '20 at 2:04
  • 2
    @fizz I believe they're all conspiracy theories (that mexicans/jews are going to replace people) the reptilians are just a more extreme case – Lio Elbammalf Dec 14 '20 at 22:21
  • 1
    In this context it's pretty funny. At first glance though, it definitely sounds anti-Semitic. – user253751 Dec 15 '20 at 19:07
17

For what's worth it, the (counter) phrase has been used with the ironic meaning by civil rights advocate Lateefah Simon, as quoted by ADL here:

In accepting this Award, I want to send a message to surrounding communities in our State, our Nation and the World: That we from the Civil Rights Movement generation remember, especially African Americans. We shall never forget… We are here today to say, what some may be unwilling or uncomfortable to say publicly to the white racists in Charlottesville, Virginia and to all in our nation responsible for the historic rise in racist hate motivated violence: Oh, yes, the ’Jews’ will replace you! And so will all of us with them, who are non-Jews, Black, Brown, Asian, Catholics, Protestants, Muslims, Straight or LGBTQ.

(You'll note the scare quotes around "Jews" as ADL transcribed it.)

0

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .