File this under another instance of the dumb Village Academic Curriculum. A high school a few miles up river from New York City stripped all instances of the swastika in its production of “The Producers,” a musical that follows the exploits of two dishonest Broadway producers who try to put on the world’s worst play, “Springtime for Hitler.” In doing so, the work mocks Nazism. It’s also difficult to get that point across if the swastika is scrubbed from the stage. But Bob Pritchard, superintendent for South Orangetown, told the local news the symbol under any circumstance was inappropriate. A performer in the school’s play, who identified himself as a Jew, didn’t see a problem with the symbolism. “It’s satire, not supposed to be taken seriously,” he said.
“Contrary to what the district thinks, context does matter,” wrote Reason’s Robby Soave. “If a swastika appears on a Jewish student’s locker, it’s a hate crime. If it appears in a history textbook, it’s not. The danger comes when authority figures try to shelter kids from offensive ideas and symbols. It’s better to let them behold the swastika, and laugh at it, then live in fear of it.”
Symbols mean things, but they can be manipulated to say something about the original idea. In the context of a Broadway flop, the swastika — and the ideas it symbolizes — are show to be cheap and crass. Using the symbol reduces its power.
That being said, we’ll leave this here: