Sisterhood Blog

About That Heidi Klum Post

By Rebecca Honig Friedman

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Given the controversy over my recent “Project Runway” post, which generated a torrent of angry comments, I have been given the opportunity to respond here.

First I want to clarify (listen up, Tablet) that I do not think Heidi Klum is a Nazi. My point was not to attack Klum but to acknowledge the associations that I, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, sometimes have — politically incorrect as they are — between ordinary Germans and Nazis. I’m not one who avoids German products, or German people for that matter. But after years of Holocaust education, if we can call it that, certain images and stereotypes have been so ingrained that I can’t help but think of them, and I don’t think I’m alone in that.

Sixty-five years after World War II, the relationship between contemporary Germans and Jews, and the residual impact of the Holocaust on Jews today, isn’t something I hear talked about much anymore, and so I felt it was worth bringing up for discussion. My attempt at doing this in a humorous way proved, by the reaction of many readers, to fail. Instead of provoking discussion, the post just provoked anger and resentment, and charges that I am a racist and “need help.” I don’t think either are true (and I thank Tablet’s Sara Ivry for allowing that I seem like “a reasonable, nice gal”), but I concede I may have gone out too far on a limb that was too thin to hold my weight.

Yes, my comparisons of Klum to a Nazi were ridiculous, but that was my point. I have to take some responsibility for why so many readers missed that point, yet I have heard privately from others who got it and identified with it. So I’m not sorry that I brought it up.

Frankly, I was a bit shocked at the reaction to my post. While I did hope the post would generate discussion, even heated discussion, I never anticipated the extreme offense that some readers would take to it and the level of anger it would cause among commenters. Provoking discussion, even about uncomfortable subjects, is the point of this blog as I understand it, so I hope that I have cleared the air, and maybe generated some of that discussion I initially hoped for.

And for the record, I will be watching “Project Runway” tomorrow night. Shoot me an email if you want to compare notes.

KXB Tue. Nov 3, 2009

"So I’m not sorry that I brought it up."

Please, stop digging.

sd Wed. Nov 4, 2009

"My point was not to attack Klum but to acknowledge the associations that I, the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, sometimes have — politically incorrect as they are — between ordinary Germans and Nazis."

Many of us are also grandchildren of Holocaust and WWII survivors and realize those stereotypes are ingrained. But that doesn't allow you the wholly disrespectful comparison you raised. Heidi Klum, of all people. The woman who married the blackest of men and with whom she has three biological children (yeah, I wrote that on the post that was deleted).

Jennifer Wed. Nov 4, 2009

Thanks for your explanation. I read this and then thought about what my response would be. Here's what I think.

If Jews around the world are asking for the end of the overwhelming proliferation of Nazi imagery, then we as Jews should also follow suit. Regardless of what our personal family histories are, comparing someone to a Nazi isn't right.

I appreciate your taking the time to try to explain, but I think you made a mistake in posting your original article. Lashon Hara takes many forms and I'm sorry, but your post to me falls under that category.

Joyess NJ Wed. Nov 4, 2009

i found the heidi klum post interesting on a few levels: one, exploring the idea of residual impact and how it affects society both in the private and public spheres. it's undeniable that feelings linger, and whether we nurture them, mock them, or hide them, they exist and affect our interactions with each other and feelings about ourselves. dialogue helps. humor helps. secondly, television personalities are always exaggerated and i'm pretty sure nobody at Bravo is telling Heidi to tone down the uptight disciplinarian german thing. sure, she seems like a nice person in real life. her role on tv however, requires harshness with a german accent. i'm sure you're not the first to make the association. thirdly, the "limb" you went out on was to make an honest and light- hearted analogy meant to spark conversation. just so you know, for those of us that "got it" the limb wasn't nearly as flimsy as you think.

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