A leading Australian Jewish organisation has denounced American cultural critic Camille Paglia for calling Taylor Swift a “Nazi Barbie”, calling on her to apologise for the “absurd and offensive comparison of Swift to the Nazis”.
The chairman of B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission, Dr Dvir Abramovich, said Paglia demeaned and trivialised the suffering of the victims of Nazi Germany with her comments about Swift and social media posts about her celebrity friends.
In an essay in The Hollywood Reporter, Paglia contends that Swift’s “…twinkly persona is a scary flashback to the fascist blondes who ruled the social scene during my youth”.
Paglia also suggested the singer should retire the “obnoxious Nazi Barbie routine of wheeling out friends and celebrities as performance props.”
Dr Abramovich said Paglia’s references to Nazism and fascism were “obscene and insensitive”.
“While Paglia is entitled to her views about Taylor Swift’s music and performance, her absurd and offensive comparison of Swift to the Nazis, whose genocidal policies and actions resulted in the systematic persecution and slaughter of six million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust, betrays an ignorance of what really happened in Hitler’s Third Reich,” Dr Abramovich said.
“Such obscene and insensitive equations have no place in our cultural discourse and only serve to demean and trivialise the memory and suffering of the victims.”
Dr Abramovich said the comparisons made by Paglia were not only historically inaccurate and extreme, but “they are also hurtful to Holocaust survivors, their families, as well as to those who fought bravely against the Nazis in World War II”.
“We call on The Hollywood Reporter to repudiate the article, and would urge Ms Paglia to apologise and to refrain from using such Holocaust imagery in the future.”
The ADC was founded in 1979 to fight anti-Semitism through educational programs that combat bigotry, prejudice and all forms of hatred.
Earlier this year, the ADC demanded former NRL player Jarryd Hayne apologise for suggesting Jewish people were responsible for killing Jesus.
Hayne, who now plays football in the United States, posted the offending comments on social media in July while in Sydney for the Hillsong annual conference. He later wrote an apology on social media, addressed to the Jewish community.
Dr Abramovich has also taken millionaire MP Clive Palmer to task for calling former Queensland premier Campbell Newman a Nazi.
In her essay, Paglia argues that Swift and other women in the entertainment business should forge productive friendships based around mentoring, exchanging advice and developing innovative projects.
”Women need to study the immensely productive dynamic of male bonding in history,” she writes. “With their results-oriented teamwork, men largely have escaped the sexual jealousy, emotionalism and spiteful turf wars that sometimes dog women.”
Paglia’s comments have received some support, but have been greeted with outrage by fans of Swift, who is touring Australia.
Feminist icon Gloria Steinem once invoked the Third Reich in an attack on Paglia: “Her calling herself a feminist is sort of like a Nazi saying they’re not anti-Semitic.”
Paglia reportedly took umbrage at the references to Nazism but invoked the name of another genocidal killer, calling Steinem “the Stalin of feminism”.