Ohio State marching band’s Nazi song draws Jewish ire

Both the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center issued scathing condemnations on Sunday, after the Wall Street Journal published selections from the book.

By
August 2, 2015 16:51
3 minute read.
Ohio State University

The drum major leads the Ohio State University marching band [file]. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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Jewish organizations are livid following reports that members of Ohio State University’s marching band, one of the most famous in college football, published a satirical songbook containing lyrics making fun of Jews being murdered in concentration camps.

Both the Anti-Defamation League and the Simon Wiesenthal Center issued scathing condemnations on Sunday after The Wall Street Journal published selections from the book.

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“The Ohio State University marching band’s parody song-book, which reportedly contains misogynistic and anti-LGBT lyrics and a song mocking Holocaust victims, is outrageous and deeply offensive. Such lyrics not only demean entire groups of people, but also trivialize the horror that victims and their families have experienced,” ADL Ohio Regional Director Anita Gray said.

According to the Journal , one song, titled Goodbye Kramer and set to the music of the song Don’t Stop Believing , contained lyrics such as “small town Jew... who took the cattle train to you know where,” “[h]ead to the furnace room, [’b] out to meet your fiery doom,” and “[o]h the baking never ends, [i]t goes on and on and on and on.”

An unofficial project of the marching band, the songbook was not authorized by the university and was passed around by members with a warning that it should not be shared with outsiders. Administrators discovered its existence following an investigation last year.

The writers of the book were apparently aware of the potential for readers to take offense at the lyrics; the book’s introduction, quoted the Journal , admitted that “some of these [songs] may be offensive to you,” adding that readers should “suck it up, act like you got a pair and have a good time singing them.”

The Journal report cited the university as saying the songbook reflected the sort of “shocking behavior” the school is “commit - ted to eradicating from its marching band program.” The condemnation was welcomed by the ADL.



“Such statements send a critical message that prejudice and bigotry have no place at Ohio State. We stand ready and willing to work with the administration to create an atmosphere at OSU that is more inclusive and welcoming for all individuals,” it said.

Most troubling may be the attitudes toward genocide and violence evinced by former band members who spoke with the press, said Menachem Rosensaft, who teaches about the law of genocide at the law schools of Columbia and Cornell universities.

Statements such as those of erstwhile Ohio State University band member Lee Auer, who was quoted by the Journal stating that he didn’t think “you are going to find many 19-year-olds who don’t joke about those things,” are extremely problematic, Rosensaft asserted.

“Genocide, specifically, and bigotry in all its many manifestations, in general, are not and must never be allowed to become a laughing matter of any sort. It is precisely the trivialization of evil – whether directed against Jews, Christians, Muslims, gays, women, or any other group – that far too often is a first step on the path to persecution of and violence against minorities, including killings and sometimes even mass murder.”

Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told The Jerusalem Post that Ohio State, its football pro - gram and famed marching band are all top tiers in US university educational, sports and cultural life, and the fact that “this kind of activity could go on for as long as it did, including the horrific Shoah-related mockery, demands serious soul searching at OSU.

“In addition, it’s alumni, who are counted among leaders in American life should be demanding serious action. Is no adult to be held accountable? The notion that this behavior wasn’t detected when band members practice literally hundreds of hours a semester isn’t believable. We appreciate the current president’s statement. Now how about some account - ability.”

Colette Avital, chairwoman of the Center of Organizations of Holocaust Survivors in Israel, went even further, telling the Post she believes that the fact that the university, after two investigations, limited itself to stating that this it was “shocking behavior” but chose to do nothing “is reprehensible.

“We expect the university to take stronger action – as we believe that Jewish organizations will do,” she said.

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