Forward Thinking

Mr. Obama, Your Selfie Sent All the Wrong Messages

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share

Getty Images

Thank you, Mr. President.

You’ve just made it harder for me and every other parent and educator to convince young people that taking selfies at memorials and on solemn occasions is not okay.

Just what were you thinking when you leaned in close to Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and British Prime Minister David Cameron to snap a group self-portrait at the memorial service for the late great South African Nelson Mandela on Tuesday?!

The folks behind the “Selfies at Funerals” Tumblr blog said it best: “Obama has taken a funeral selfie, so our work here is done.”

Sadly, I fear, that the image of you grinning in to the lens of that mobile phone you held up together with Thorning-Schmidt is going to be recalled far more clearly and much longer than anything you said in your well-written four-and-half-minute-long eulogy for Mandela.

I completely understand that you were too busy to read my piece about the unfortunate and misguided (some would say disgusting) trend of young visitors to Holocaust sites and memorials in Europe taking cheery (and sometimes sexy) selfies and posting on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. But for parents like myself and educators, a world leader setting this example only reinforces that these pictures are ok for teens to take.

I’m sure your wife Michelle also didn’t have a chance to read my piece, but from the look of disapproval on her face, it seems she didn’t have to in order to know how a world leader should act at a memorial service.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: selfie, obama, mandela

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.