Commentary

Patton Oswalt Gets Roasted After Comparing Coronavirus Lockdown Protesters to Anne Frank

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Even a liberal comic should know that an Anne Frank joke won’t fly.

But comedian Patton Oswalt decided to give it a whirl over the weekend with an atrocious post on Twitter that compared Americans protesting the prolonged economic lockdown caused by the coronavirus to the young Jewish girl who hid from the Nazis in World War II Amsterdam.

Oswalt was aiming to insult the protesters but ended up smothered in scorn himself.

“Anne Frank spent 2 years hiding in an attic and we’ve been home for just over a month with Netflix, food delivery & video games and there are people risking viral death by storming state capital buildings & screaming, ‘Open Fuddruckers!’” he wrote.

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That would probably have ’em roaring in Malibu or the other tony enclaves where Hollywood’s rich and famous are hunkered down. In fact, it would be a hit in any bubble world where real people don’t have to worry about real problems.

But Oswalt was making his joke on social media, and while he had some supporters, the general backlash was scathing.

For a wealthy entertainer, the lockdown might look like time off binging on streaming television, but for the unwashed masses who have families to feed and bills to pay, it’s a considerably different story.

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It’s a classic example of the glitterati that doesn’t get it. Most Americans understand by now that the Chinese-imported coronavirus represents a deadly threat. They understand that some unpleasant measures are necessary to deal with the unpleasant parts of life. (It’s a good bet they understand it a lot better than any pampered celebrity.)

Do you think the U.S. is ready to reopen its economy?

For many millions of Americans, though, lost employment, unpaid bills and dreams deferred are also a threat. They’re not saying the country needs to ignore the potential for disease, they’re saying there’s got to be a way around it — and as American citizens, they have the right to make those feelings known, no matter how much Oswalt et al might not like it.

Oswalt is no stranger to recent controversy. This is the guy who, a little more than a month ago, made headlines with another social media post that fantasized about President Donald Trump’s supporters dying of COVID-19.

In short, for viewers who know him best as the lovable loser Spence Olchin on the old “King of Queens” show, his public image has come a long way in the wrong direction.

But the joke wasn’t just elitist, it was ignorant of the fact that there are bigger concerns than economic ones.

For a lot of Americans who’ve been watching as state governors indulge their totalitarian bents while cops detain dads in parks and some overeager sheriffs decide arresting pastors is a smart law-and-order tactic, the prolonged lockdown is a sign that fundamental American liberties are at risk.

And it was essentially self-defeating. As one Twitter poster pointed out, carrying the analogy to its logical conclusion, comparing the protesters to the famous young Jewish girl who hid because the alternative was death puts those in charge of the lockdowns on the side of the murderous Nazi regime.

Obviously, Oswalt never intended to make his side look like the villains in the Anne Frank story. But that’s the kind of thing that happens when a Hollywood airhead with an ax to grind decides to invoke one of the great tragedies of history in a juvenile attempt to make political opponents look stupid.

Oswalt should also have remembered that young Anne Frank was captured and died a tormented death in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.

It’s not a story to joke about – not even for an idiot liberal comedian trying to impress an idiot liberal audience.

There’s a reason Anne Frank jokes don’t fly. Maybe Oswalt and his fans will have the decency someday to understand why.

They might even understand that some Americans need to work for a living, too.

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Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro desk editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015.
Joe has spent more than 30 years as a reporter, copy editor and metro editor in newsrooms in Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Florida. He's been with Liftable Media since 2015. Largely a product of Catholic schools, who discovered Ayn Rand in college, Joe is a lifelong newspaperman who learned enough about the trade to be skeptical of every word ever written. He was also lucky enough to have a job that didn't need a printing press to do it.
Birthplace
Philadelphia
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