A few weeks ago, rap queen Nicki Minaj released the official lyric video for her new single, “Only.”
The video starts with a Looney Tunes-esque opening visual, so I assumed the video was going to be silly and cartoonish.
Instead, the rest of the video is littered with blatant Nazi imagery such as flags, armbands, gas masks and uniforms. That doesn’t seem very “looney” to me. Does the Looney Tunes opening suggest the subsequent visuals are supposed to a joke? Are they supposed to be goofy?
There is nothing funny about Nazism. There is nothing funny about depicting Nicki Minaj as a Nazi dictator to symbolize her power and accomplishment.
As a Jewish fan of Nicki, I feel betrayed. How could the woman who raps about empowerment and self-love turn to such stigmatic images?
Unlike Whoopi Goldberg, I don’t think Nicki is completely ignorant of Nazi atrocities. In fact, she even made a public apology on her Twitter claiming that she would “never condone Nazism.”
The director of the video, Jeff Osborne, not only confirmed the piece has intentional Nazi imagery but also stated he “won’t apologize” for his work.
Osborne claimed his work is reminding people of Nazism as a way to keep events like the Holocaust from repeating in the future.
If the video portrayed the genocide of the Jewish people as well as other populations, then sure, maybe it could be considered a good way to connect to younger generations and explain the horrors of the Holocaust.
But it didn’t.
Nicki, who is a role model for both kids and adults, is shown as a Nazi dictator. What part of this portrayal says “Nazism is bad and shouldn’t be repeated?”
It’s being repeated! In the video! By an international superstar!
If anything, the video suggests Nazism is what you achieve when you dominate the rap scene.
Nazism is, among other things, anti-Semitism. It brought one of the most heinously terrifying forms of anti-Semitism in world history: the Holocaust. Separating the Nazis from this horrific event is a form of erasure. Discussing one without the other is an incomplete history.
For Nicki to take Nazism completely out of context, she disregarded the hatred behind the Nazi party and how that hatred evolved into a mass genocide of several populations, Jews being among them.
While Nicki’s video seems relatively harmless on its own, it adds to a growing problem of Holocaust ignorance and increasing displays of anti-Semitism.
In the U.S., only 24 states have the Holocaust as part of their explicitly mandated curriculum requirements. That means students in the remaining 26 states may not even learn about it.
Not educating people about the mass genocide of the Jewish people makes it possible for history to repeat itself. The Holocaust didn’t start out suddenly with deporting people to concentration camps. It started with smaller, more subtle acts of anti-Semitism to sway public opinion.
This year, anti-Semitic acts in Australia increased by one third. In Europe, there have even been reports of protesters chanting “Jews to the gas,” a direct reference to the gas chambers used by the Nazis during the Holocaust. Nicki seemed to skim over that bit in her video.
I highly doubt Nicki has any truly harmful intentions with her video, but I can’t shake the discomfort I get watching her glorify the symbols of a regime that massacred millions of people. And I love Nicki, so I want to let it slide.
But how much can we afford to overlook before these small acts of anti-Semitism snowball into something more? We can’t let history repeat itself.
Hanna Greenblott is a sophomore English language and literature major and can be reached at email@example.com.
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