Amazon.com is streaming a new series, The Man In the High Castle, based on the Philip K. Dicks novel that imagines a universe where Hitler won the second world war and the Third Reich encompasses the United States.
To promote the show, Amazon has decorated a working New York subway car with nazified American symbols, for example, the seats are wrapped with a version of the American flag that replaces the familiar fifty stars with the Nazi Iron Eagle.
I can’t tell you what it must feel like for some elderly Holocaust survivor to step into that car and be surrounded by images reminiscent of those that once terrorized their youth and continue to haunt their dreams.
But I can tell you this. Some while back, I was in the audience enjoying a production of Cabaret, the musical depicting Berlin during the years in which the Nazis came to power.
All of the sudden, in a single beat, the orchestra and the company went completely silent as red ceiling-to-floor banners bearing the Nazi swastika loudly unfurled throughout the theater.
Instantly, I rose from my seat with the intention of running toward the exit.
While it took only a moment for me to regain my sense of time and place, my response had been visceral, automatic. And I am born in America, many years after the Shoah.
So, this advertising, we can argue about free speech until the cows come home, but such a stunt seems very cruel indeed.
The MTA (Metropolitan Transit Authority) standards call for maintaining a safe and welcoming environment for all customers and employees. Yeah, right.
© 2015 Jaclyn Schrier. All rights reserved.