Nazi Drinking Games: Ignorance or Hatred?

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Eli Aronson In early March, students and recent graduates from multiple Orange County high schools posted photos via snapchat of a beer pong game in which they set up the cups in the shape of a swastika, while mocking the “Heil Hitler” salute as a joke. The students from Newport High School and Costa Mesa High School received international publicity after a student screenshotted two pictures and posted to Twitter with the caption “I’m horrified.”  U.S Congresswoman Katie Porter also criticized the students behavior via Twitter.“I condemn this display of a hateful, anti-semitic symbol and call on parents and community leaders to redouble our efforts to educate young people about the history of violence against Jewish people worldwide. This has no place in Orange County,” she said This is not the first time high school students have posted photos on social media of drinking games involving the use of swastikas.  In 2017, students from The Lovett School, an independent school in Atlanta which is similar to Latin, posted pictures of their “Jews vs Nazis” drinking game.  In this variation, the “Jews” team creates a Star of David with their cups and the “Nazi’s” team makes a swastika, seen in the picture below.   Also in 2017, an all-girls Catholic High School in Kansas City posted online of their Nazi Beer Pong game with a caption of “girls night out”.  In 2016, high students from Princeton, NJ also posted to social media with their twist of beer pong, titled “Alcoholocaust”. “I find it horrible and utterly disgusting” commented Jewish Student Committee head, junior Jordan Rice. He harped on the idea that these events start with a “stigma around acting a certain way in high school, acting “cool or “popular” to be a part of “in group’”.  Jordan later added, “While some may use the fact that they were under the influence as an excuse, that is not justification for their extremely antisemitic behavior and hopefully they will now understand the consequences of their actions”. The head of the Black Students Union, senior Anwar Mohammed, had a similar response to Jordan. He believes that “people are intuited to follow the status quo, but the thing is, these kids weren’t taught that there are inequalities and biases that can affect marginalized groups they’re targeting”.  In simpler terms, Anwar added, “It’s just plain old drunk high school boys acting like they’re funny”. Ms. Dorer, Latin’s longest tenured teacher and creator of sophomore history elective, Nazi Mind, sees these incidents as a “fundamental lack of understanding.”  Ms. Dorer has spent decades developing her ideas for why people do evil things. “Part of what is to blame is a lack of education,” she said “Things like the Holocaust that are turned into jokes rather than into what most people would react to.”   Although it’s a problem that high schoolers can go through high school without learning about the Holocaust or other genocides, Ms. Dorer thinks the problem starts with a lack of empathy. “Empathy needs to be woven into curriculum early on,” Ms. Dorer said, “If it’s not woven in, it will be hit or miss. Our biggest threat is ignorance”.  Ms. Dorer also noted, similar to Jordan and Anwar that it doesn’t help that high school students tend to follow “status quo”, especially when alcohol is brought into the mix. People don’t want to be left out of feeling included. The more people ignore the meaning of hate symbols, the more carelessly they’ll use them as an “act for attention,” Ms. Dorer said. The generation of high schoolers now are the leaders of the future. If high schoolers are turning their drinking games into Holocaust jokes, where might this lead if they do not realize what they are doing is immoral?  Ignorance leads to hatred and mass discrimination and horrific events such as the Holocaust. Antisemitism has never gone away despite this abhorrent time in history. This is all the more reason that acts such as Nazi beer pong cannot go unnoticed. Acts like this should not be tolerated.]]>