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.
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!”
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) April 18, 2020
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.
Hi Mr. Oswalt,
Roughly 22 million Americans are out of work. There are news reports of miles-long lines of cars at food distribution centers. People aren’t asking for restrictions to be lifted so they can go to Fuddruckers, they are doing so b/c they want to earn money to eat.
— Wes (@wcrickards) April 18, 2020
This is extremely elitist, many of these people are out of work and on their last leg. Yes, if you are part of the lucky few who are able to work from home or have jobs that are essential it seems this easy. Millions of Americans are struggling right now… come on Patton!
— Andrew Burns (@andrew_burns94) April 18, 2020
22 million new jobless claims in 4 weeks.
“Having to watch netflix” is not the extent of the problem they’re protesting.
Check your wealthy privilege.
— Carlos America (@CarlosTheRight) April 18, 2020
“Let them eat kale!” laughed the rich comedian.
— Bridget Phetasy (@BridgetPhetasy) April 18, 2020
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.)
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.
Anne Frank faced a much more credible threat. Our greatest threat here is the one against our Constitutional rights.
— Kash Jackson (@KashJackson2018) April 18, 2020
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.
Maybe living under Nazis is not a good model to emulate, eh?
— Robert Barnes (@Barnes_Law) April 18, 2020
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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