NYs annoyed by anti-vaccine Holocaust comparisons. So they wrote a song.

AuthorPHILISSA CRAMER/JTA
Publication Date28 Aug 2021
For months, Schick had been keeping a tally in her head — and sometimes on Twitter, where the New York City screenwriter is active — of pandemic-related Holocaust comparisons that, to her and many others, made no sense at all.

There were the people who said staying home made them feel like Anne Frank. The politicians comparing mask requirements to the Nazis' race laws. And, increasingly, the yellow stars worn by anti-vaccination activists.

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Around the world, these images and ideas have alarmed Jews and others who don't understand how measures aimed at preserving health can be likened in any way to the Nazis' successful effort to murder 6 million Jews in the Holocaust. Antisemitism watchdogs including the Anti-Defamation League have called repeatedly for the analogies to stop, saying that they trivialize a tragedy of incomparable proportions.

Schick took a different approach. She scribbled down some lyrics and reached out to her friend Avishai Weinberger to ask if he knew anyone who played the ukulele.

"It's a more fun way to process it than just to be screaming in your head all the time," she said.

The result of their collaboration is "The Anti-Vaxxer's Lament," a two-minute song that pillories Holocaust comparisons in the COVID-19 era. In a video posted this week, Weinberger's mother, a children's musician named Naomi Weinberger, strums an upbeat tune as he sings Schick's words, written from the perspective of someone who rejects vaccines.

"My life is like the Holocaust. I say this with great pride," one verse goes. "'Cause public health and safety are the same as genocide."

Later: "Nazis had a problem with the Jewish folks existing. But ghetto life was nothing to the stuff that I'm resisting!"

Schick said she was inspired by "snarky internet songs" like the ones popularized by the comedy-folk duo Garfunkel and Oates, who went viral in 2009 when they satirized opposition to same-sex marriage.

Weinberger, a screenwriter who lives in Brooklyn, said he was reminded more of Tom Lehrer, the satirist whose songs included one in which Wernher von Braun, the Nazi rocket scientist who was brought to the United States, blithely muses about bombs falling.

"There's something to be said, I think, for if you're really angry, turning it into something where you get to be calm about it and someone else gets to be upset," Weinberger...

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