“Camp Kill Jews” Ethics

And they say “Washington Redskins” is offensive.

"What a charming name! What does it mean in your language? Oh...wait, WHAT???"

“What a charming name! What does it mean in your language? Oh…wait, WHAT???”

From Spain comes the news that the town of Castrillo Matajudios, which literally means “Camp Kill Jews,” has voted to change its name after 400 years. This appears to be part of Spain’s recent, rather belated, I would say, efforts to acknowledge and express regret to Jews for the persecution they endured during the Spanish Inquisition.

Strange as it seem, the current name probably came into being not to denigrate Jews, but to protect Jews in the town who had officially converted to Catholicism under threat of torture and death. As such, it is a piece of history, and the words convey information about the town, the country, and the people who lived there, not a slur….except to someone who knows nothing about the town.

I’m not aware of a perfect analogy for this situation. It has some similarities to the plight of the towns of Blue Ball, Pennsylvania, named for a famous and long-gone hotel in the area, and the Amish community of Intercourse, Pennsylvania, named when a common uses of that term conveyed “fellowship.” In a  parallel universe where political correctness was dictated by social conservatives rather censorious progressives, these towns might be getting coercive signed letters from Republican Senators “suggesting” that they change their names to something less offensive, even though, as with the Redskins name, history and context would be lost.

“Camp Kill Jews” certainly stretches the limits of my belief that third party offense and political correctness power games shouldn’t force institutions to abandon tradition,  images and symbolism. As with the Joe Paterno statue that was taken down at Penn State, I can see a valid argument that a little offensiveness is not too much of a price to pay to avoid the airbrushing of history. How many Spaniards, not to mention Americans, know what the Jews were subjected to during the 16th century? A town named “Camp Kill Jews” helps tell the story, just as the statue of Joe Pa, had it been allowed to stand, would have reminded the University of how its values were perverted in the name of sports.

I think I would vote to change the name of the town; as I said, this is an extreme example of the dilemma. I’d change Redskins, too, unless a bunch of position-abusing U.S. Senators demanded that I do so, Then I would vow to keep the name, and tell them to stop pandering to political correctness bullies, and to mind their own business.


Pointer: Fark

‘Facts: Times of Israel, TPM

10 thoughts on ““Camp Kill Jews” Ethics

  1. I do not believe “Redskins” is derogatory. I was told by an American Indian in Virginia that “redskins” comes from the fruit juice they smeared on their faces and body for ceremonial or combat. It has nothing to do with their natural skin but that when you see an Indian with the red smears on him he is likely coming after your scalp and not to shake hands. I think Washington Redskins is a great name for a football team!!!

  2. Canada has a lot of interesting town names: Kandahar, SK, Mozart, SK, Pansy, MB, Conception Bay, NL, Dildo, NL. (Yes, that’s right, dildo.). St. Louis du Ha! Ha!, QC (with the exclamation points), Sexsmith, AB, WaWa, ON, Climax, SK, Come By Chance, NL, Vulcan, AB (it was an aircraft, dammit), and Spread Eagle, NL.

    It always hits me that the best names are in Newfoundland.

  3. It would be airbrushing history if the town were empty, a relic of a distant time. But when people have to live there and work there and raise their kids there and put the name on everything that has their address…historic preservation should give way to some practical civility.

  4. It’s interesting to me that the free market hasn’t corrected this sooner. I would never move to a town with that name — even if I worked there, I would buy a house in the closest town.

    • Isn’t it? For 400 years, too. On the other hand, the total number of people living in the town appears to be 100 or less. The odd and per se offensive town name is all it has going for it.

      • Really? For something that can be easily taken for granted by anyone growing up there, likely with eyes towards moving out, and for something that simply isn’t *actually* hurting anyone therefore not driving any intrinsic need or value, nestled inside Europe, which, completely alien to us, still comfortably espouses (often overtly) an anti-Semitic culture.

        It’s easy to see why no one cared to change it.

  5. I have not researched to confirm, but I was told recently by a Florida resident that continued use of the name of the Florida State University teams (Seminoles) was defended most vigorously by…wait for it…descendants of that earlier, Seminole nation – and, the same people were most vigorously opposed to replacing that name.

    • I do agree with the changing of the name of the town in Spain. But I hope the name that it is being changed from will be remembered as a fact of history. For example, I would not want a park or wilderness area in the U.S. to remain (or become) named, say, White Man’s Scalp Forest.

      But there may actually be good reason to name more than one place in the U.S. “Massacre Meadow” or somesuch. Given its devastation by tornadoes twice in less than 15 years, whoever meant to honor whom by naming Moore, Oklahoma might want to consider re-naming the city “No More” or “F5field.”

  6. I sometimes wonder how long it will be before the ACLU goes after those cities that have a religious based name. Of course, that would (ironically) take out the bulk of California’s large cities. Maybe that’s the reason why.

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