Another day, another disturbing and anti-Semitic high school dance story. You might remember a group of teenage boys doing the Nazi salute before their junior prom in Baraboo, Wisconsin, the picture of which went viral on social media and led to an ultimately unsatisfying investigation. Somehow, another sickening display of anti-Semitism has occurred at yet another school in the United States.
This time it involves high schoolers located in Minnetonka, Minnesota. As reported by the Star Tribune, a photo that first appeared on a private Instagram account has now gone viral and gotten the school administration involved. A teenage boy and girl appear in the photo, both doing the Nazi salute. They’re holding an “invitation” to the school’s Valentine’s Day dance.
“Sweethearts would be a Hit(ler) w/you, and I could Nazi myself going w/anybody else. Be Mein? Yes or Nein,” the invitation reads. (‘Sweethearts’ is the name of the annual dance.)
The photo appears with the Instagram caption: “Also I would like to state I am not anti-Semitic in any way, I hate all races equally.”
Superintendent Dennis Peterson wrote in an e-mail Friday, stating:
“While I do not know whether it was an intentionally hateful message or was created out of ignorance, be assured the students will be disciplined for their actions...The larger issue is that we, as a community, must do an even better job of educating students about Hitler and the Holocaust. While we do units on this in middle school, and we have had several Holocaust survivors speak at MHS, it has apparently not been enough to prevent yesterday’s incident.”
The email did not explicitly list what the message read.
Lest you think these students were simply uneducated about the Holocaust (or anti-Semitism in general, as it still exists today), they reportedly had a local Holocaust survivor, Judith Meisel, speak at the high school about her experiences just last year.
The executive director of Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas (JCRC), Steve Hunegs, gave a statement, including:
“Such images both insult the memory of Hitler’s victims, as well as the heroic Minnesotans who fought to defeat Nazism… In light of the situation, the JCRC stands ready to provide additional Holocaust education resources and guidance on how to support the district’s Jewish students and families.”
Unfortunately, these situations are not outliers. According to an annual report released by the Anti-Defamation League, the “number of anti-Semitic incidents was nearly 60 percent higher in 2017 than 2016, the largest single-year increase on record and the second highest number reported since ADL started tracking incident data in the 1970s.”
This uptake was partially due to a “significant increase in incidents in schools and on college campuses, which nearly doubled for the second year in a row.” What “incidents" were included? Vandalism, physical assaults, harassment, and bomb threats, among others. What will it take to stomp out anti-Semitism for good?