And now for something completely appalling! The Tiverton, Rhode Island eatery posted this meme to Facebook:
What occurred after the meme went up was that a local talk radio host called to investigate. She says the restaurant owner told her that he thought the meme was funny and then cut off the call. The employee who posted the gag alleged that he didn’t know who the girl in the photo was.
After the post had been taken down by the restaurant, a contrite apology went up in its place:
The team here at The Atlantic wants to issue its sincerest apologies for a deeply insensitive post shared by our account on 7/22. The post was poorly thought out and we realize that it was incredibly inappropriate and does not reflect our values as members of our community.
There is no excuse for the sharing of this post, and there is nothing we can do to rectify it, all we can do now is offer our deepest apology to those who were rightfully hurt by our actions.
The Atlantic Restaurant prides itself on being a tolerant, inclusive and safe space for all people. We love and respect all of our incredible customers and members of our larger community, irrespective of their religion, race, creed, sexuality or gender identity. Moving forward we will be vigilant in vetting all social media posts to ensure that nothing like the events of this past week ever happen again.
We appreciate the outpouring of support, as well as the outpouring of rightful criticism, this will certainly be a teachable moment for our team.“Thank you again for allowing us to serve our community, doing what we love – we hope that with time we can regain the trust of those who we’ve hurt and move forward, as a better, stronger and more sensitive organization.
Wait…there’s been an outpouring of support? From who, the Eichmann Fan Club?
1. The apology is okay; indeed it probably makes the top rung, a #1 apology on the Ethics Alarms Apology Scale. My only reservation is that this is a Pazuzu Excuse. The paragraph that dutifully lists all of current virtue-signaling buzz words screams of insincerity. Posting that meme is signature significance: nobody does it who “prides itself on being a tolerant, inclusive and safe space for all people ramalamadingdong.” No business does it that isn’t run and staffed by morons, either.
2. There is no chance, none, that the employee who posted this didn’t know that the girl was Anne Frank.
3. The Newport Daily News headline for the story stated that the meme was “viewed as anti-Semitic.” That’s unusually nuanced for a headline! It’s right: many people see the meme as anti-Semitic, but it’s just a tasteless, ugly, sick joke. Sick jokes are supposed to be funny
they are outrageous. Making such a joke or laughing at it doesn’t prove bigotry.
4. This is one of those expressions of online free speech that I would defend to the death if it was intended to be private and between friends, but that if it somehow became public, the position here would be that those circulating it had no grounds to complain. However, this meme was intended to be seen by the public! How dead does one’s ethics alarms have to be to think like that? It doesn’t seem like the employee who posted it was trying to destroy his or her employer. This is a life competence failure as well as a business one: Know your community! Know your country! Know basic history! Be culturally literate!
5. Is it really possible to go through public school and grow to adulthood without learning who Anne Frank is? Is our education system that bad?
6. Back to “Now what?” The Daily News says, “While some called for a boycott of the business, others felt that was extreme for an error in judgement.” This is encouraging, I think: running a business out of town for a terrible attempt at humor on social media is indeed excessive.
7. Personally, I would never patronize such a place. I would feel unclean.
8. Finally, I have yet to find a media account of this event that featured the meme. Some, but not all, described it. This is lousy, cowardly, politically correct journalism, just like the stories that revolve around someone’s use of “a slur” that is never mentioned in the news story.