If ‘Only’ We Could Do That With Judaism

The recent attack on the offices of the French satirical paper, Charlie Hebdo, has ignited conversations about free speech and inspired a variety of publications to take a stand and reprint some of the offending images. In light of the current events, I wanted to revisit the stir Nicki Minaj caused when her lyric video for ‘Only,’ off her latest album the Pinkprint, dropped. What followed was a firestorm of criticism for imagery that evoked the Third Reich: red flags emblazoned with a stylized black and white Young Money logo, Minaj strolling through lines of rank and file soldiers straight out of a Leni Riefenstahl film. The Anti Defamation League responded by saying that, ‘the abuse of Nazi imagery is deeply disturbing and offensive to Jews…’ Minaj gave what read like a rote apology, but the director Jeff Osborne was beautifully defiant in the face of the wagging fingers: ‘First, I’m not apologizing for my work… nor will I dodge the immediate question. The flags, armbands, and gas mask (and perhaps my use of symmetry?) are all representative of Nazism. But a majority of the recognizable models/symbols are American…What’s also American is the 1st Amendment, which I’ve unexpectedly succeeded in showing how we willfully squeeze ourselves out of that right every day.’ Right to free speech is often the first justification for the protection of offensive language/imagery, but only a few months prior, it wasn’t enough. Osborne’s comments perfectly align with supporters of the French journalists and cartoonists. If drawing an image of the Prophet Mohammed is fair game, so should the use of Nazi imagery.