Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Review: WHITE SUPREMACISTS ARE HUMAN FARTS by Jenny Schmid


In the sixteen pages of what may be one of the best titled responses to the current wave of xenophobia, antisemitism, and racism that is cresting on a global scale, Minnesota-based artist Jenny Schmid tries to put the human face back on the dehumanizing language of the alt-right and other hate groups (including the current US administration). White Supremacists Are Human Farts features Schmid and her adopted daughter in conversation about topics that, because of the world in which we live, more and more parents are having to have to have with their children.

It’s a conversation that has no easy answers. And new questions seem to arise every day.

Using the story of Anne Frank as a framing device, Schmid is able to focus on the ideas that hate is a learned thing, that children have a basic goodness, and that power and concepts of “otherness” are two sides of the same coin. Juxtaposing “Pathetic Posters of the ‘Alt-Right’” and the words of President Trump with the protests that came in response and her own daughter’s questions around hate allows Schmid to put the heavy weight of messaging in substitute hands. This choice not only adds to the themes that the artist is exploring but also helps the reader feel the impact of both the hate engendered by fear and the love possible through understanding and empathy.

Schmid tells the stories of her “Immigrant” friends and daughter by focusing on their inherent goodness and accomplishments. And she chooses to end the book with her daughter reciting Anne Frank’s final words: “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are still truly good at heart.” 

This final decision brings a note of hope. As bleak as things can seem sometimes, whether you are hiding from Nazis in a secret annex in Amsterdam or you are cleaning swastikas off of the walls of your synagogue or you are just inundated by a 24-hour news cycle that survives by highlighting the worst in us, there are still people who will fight back, not succumb to fear and division, and bring joy into the world.
In the face of all the rhetoric, Schmid seems to be saying that we all need to stand up and let the children lead the way. This sort of simplistic seeming sentiment almost reeks of being a meaningless platitude. But, at its heart, it’s true. As brutal and stupid and unreasonable as White Supremacists are, if we all remember that they are just pathetic, frightened Farts, we can play joyful music to drown out the vibrations that emanate from their ass-faces, and we can release the embracing scent of love to deodorize their shit stench.

And if that doesn’t work, I’m all for you punching them right in their fucking face, twice. Fuck Nazis.

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