Octopi* Wall Street

Wade sez, "This cartoon appeared in U.S. Money vs. Corporation Currency, ;Aldrich plan' by Alfred Owen Crozier, published by The Magnet company in Cincinnati, Ohio."

*I have one (1) delicious knuckle-sandwich here for the first wisenheimer to engage in octopi/octopuses pedantry. "Octopuses Wall Street?" Really? (Thanks, Wade!)


    1. For those of you who are wondering what Enoch_Root is on about:

      and I am totally for making octopodes a common word.

      1. That Merriam-Webster video is only the beginning of the pedantry arms race.  There is more detail here for anyone wishing to ascend to the rank of Second Level Pedant – http://www.heracliteanriver.com/?p=240

        I also think that if we insist on following Greek/Latin rules, then we should properly use their case systems.  E.g. the “Latin” forms octopus/octopi are ok for when the octopus is the subject of a sentence, but we also need:

        “OHAI THERE octope!” (greeting an octopus)
        “I saw an octopum”
        “tentacles octoporum” (multiple octopuses’ tentacles)

    1. Yeah, Sebastian, people have commented before on how the octopus is used for anti-semitic conspiracy theory nonsense, but it would be hard to argue that this is what people think of when they see a cartoon like this. Similar drawings have been around for over a century (we’ve all seen them in our high school history books, re: Standard Oil, etc) and I’d bet that someone with a little knowledge on the subject could prove that they were around first and that the Jew-hating stuff is just hijacking an old archetype for a stupid, evil purpose.

      1. And the swastika has a much longer history than its use by the Nazis. Do you think that matters if you start using it in propaganda?
        Why use the tainted octopus iconography when this is going to be a “let me explain” issue all the time? Is that really effective?
        You’re also opening up the OWS movement to a line of attack from the right that they love using, and that never goes out of style – why play into it? Put a spider in the web or whatever else you want. This blog is a showcase of creativity, surely the octopus can’t be the end all to illustrating the argument?

      2. It’s hard to argue that a devouring octopus image is a sure sign of anti-semitism….. but that is not going to stop anyone here from trying, apparently.  Use of an octopus to represent monopoly capitalists squeezing the life out of the nation go back into the late 19th century. (Primarily in lampoons of the very Baptist John D. Rockefeller.) This (http://motherjones.com/mixed-media/2011/10/occupy-wall-street-octopus-vampire-squid) recent Mother Jones article gives a modest overview of that historic usage.

        An octopus had become the the defining symbol of  Gilded Age monopolism by the first decade of the 20th century, due to the muckracking novel from that era, “The Octopus”.

        It’s possible the author of this particular anti-Fed screed was an anti-Semite; the horns on that particular octopus are odd and distinctive. However, an octopus caricature would more likely have been adopted by anti-Semites at the turn of century because it was already such a widely recognized negative image. The fact that they may have tried to hitch a ride on a preexisting cultural symbol does not give them ownership of that symbol.

        1. Do you think using the swastika in propaganda would be a good idea based on this reasoning? That symbols get co-opted by people you’d rather not associate with is an unfortunate fact of life, but this attitude of incredulity to the impact of the symbol is just astonishing. 
          Yes, you might be that well read, well meaning individual that has the sense to sort out what’s what with a given image. Most people aren’t. That’s why images have popular meanings. The connection between octopus and antisemitism is evident in the origin of this very image!

          I’ve said it before; is it really useful to the cause to use an image you need to preface with “let me explain” in order to set the record straight?
          Would you use a swastika for a cause you support?

          I know the pain of having your history co-opted. The amount of symbols and concepts stolen from nordic history into the neo-nazi movement is staggering. But I would be a fool not to take this into consideration when I want to make a design with certain runes to promote something I like.

          1. The swastika is the defining symbol of anti-Semitism. The octopus is not. Your comparison is illegitimate.
            I have lived 50 years on this earth and I am familiar with the main anti-Semitic tropes and caricatures of the 20th century. I have never before seen an octopus used as an anti-Semitic image.  Given what a well known a negative image it was at the turn of the century, it is no surprise that it was used by the virulent anti-Semites of that era. However, they used it because it had preexisting negative connotations. That were and are entirely independent of their fixations.  They used damned near everything they could get their pens on. Snakes, pigs……… every animal with an evil image was employed by them in their efforts to smear the Jews. If we try to avoid every real world image they twisted to their purpose, we’ll be left with a blank page and about 10 words of text.

            There is no “Let me explain” preface needed when an octopus image is used to caricature Wall Street. It is an old, well recognized anti-monopolist symbol in the U.S.
            If you want to prove that an octopus image is distinctively associated with anti-Semitism in Europe document your assertion. And explain why those associations should overwhelm it’s better established history as an anti-monopolist symbol here in the U.S.

            Click on the Mother Jones link to see the rich history of this symbol. It is still the perfect image for anti-corporate messages.

          2. This and the other comment threads on the same subject are full of comments expressing distaste for the associations the imagery brings. You want to ignore this and state that there is no confusion over the octopus/bankers imagery. That is obviously outright wrong.

            It’s also hilarious that you would say that there is no need for a “let me explain” preface in the middle of your lengthy explanation.

            The slippery slope argument is as hollow as usual; if we don’t let this slide, we can only use 10 words of text? Some of those images stuck more than others. This is one of them.

            The history of the symbol is as irrelevant to the objections as the history of the swastika. Or if I were to go on about the history and symbolism of runes.

            And if you still can’t see that people make that association, you haven’t even paid attention to these threads.

          3. “The swastika is the defining symbol of anti-Semitism. The octopus is not.”

            Not the animal itself, but as a symbol of Jews in trying to control the world, especially through finance, most certainly. It was in my history books in Sweden as examples of anti-Semitic caricatures, when we were learning about WW2 in school.

            But even if we leave the issue of anti-Semitism out of it, I find it distasteful to demonize and de-humanise people. This rarely leads to good things.

          4. I have lived 50 years on this earth and I am familiar with the main anti-Semitic tropes and caricatures of the 20th century. I have never before seen an octopus used as an anti-Semitic image.

            The second sentence tends to discredit the first.

            This particular image, with the horns which octopi don’t have and which Jews have been claimed to have, is clearly anti-Semitic in its original context. I’d rather avoid having it in my movement. It’s not so much that the movement can be smeared with it; those who wish to smear it will find a way to do so. It’s that I don’t want to encourage right-wing swine in any way whatsoever. It’s the same sentiment as “You don’t fight fascists because you think you can win; you fight fascists because they are fascists.” There’s a huge chasm between criticizing finance capitalism (left criticism) and claiming there’s a “banker’s conspiracy” (right criticism).

            The octopus image plays into the conspiratorial mindset in a way that neither the snake nor the pig does. It’s a far cry from the perfect anti-corporate message.

          5. The octopus image plays into the conspiratorial mindset in a way that neither the snake nor the pig does. It’s a far cry from the perfect anti-corporate message.

            You are attempting to use this very well-read blog to create an association of anti-Semitism with OWS in the minds of the readers. By coming back again and again with your unsubstantiated assertions regard this image, and by carefully avoiding discussion of  its documented (Mother Jones, 10/06/2011) use in 19th century U.S. culture — where it was free from anti-Semitic taint. And where it was used to lampoon very real monopolist conspiracies that impoverished large numbers of people.

            You are also trying to establish an association between “banker’s conspiracy” and Jews in the minds of the readers. The 2 concept are not coincident — except in your efforts here.

            It’s fairly clever concern trolling — but that it what it is. Designed to damage the interests of those whom you purport to be interested in “helping”.

          6. You are attempting to use this very well-read blog to create an association of anti-Semitism with OWS in the minds of the readers.

            No, I am encouraging people to defang two parallel efforts of different right-wing tendencies:

            1) To discredit the Occupy Wall Street movement by associating it with anti-Semitism
            2) To infuse the Occupy Wall Street movement with Ron Paul-style nutcase conspiratism

            You are also trying to establish an association between “banker’s conspiracy” and Jews in the minds of the readers. The 2 concept are not coincident — except in your efforts here.

            That is also a false statement. See paragraph three of this section.

            I’ve been using this pseudonym consistently for quite a while. Anyone who believes your bullshit about what I am trying to do is invited to search my history and decide for themselves. If they are generously inclined toward you, they will call you something other than a liar.

          7. This is a reply to John’s comment that ‘There’s a huge chasm between criticizing finance capitalism (left criticism) and claiming there’s a “banker’s conspiracy” (right criticism).  The octopus image plays into the conspiratorial mindset’

            There are intellectually coherent critics of the finance business on both the left and the right (and in the business itself), and there are raving conspiracy-theorist banker-haters on both the left and the right.   Go find a Chicago-schooler and a Trotskyite if you need some counter-examples to the more common stereotypes.

            As a Libertarian I’m not really on either side of the aisle, and while I’ve generally found clueless lefties to be nicer people than clueless righties, and the right wing tends to be more tolerant of hatred, the left has its fair share as well, and you really need to keep it under control, which is tough in a relatively leaderless movement where the core values are frustration and anger, and where joining the movement is defined by showing up at a rally, optionally with a sign or pizza.  

            Back when I was doing anti-tax protest stuff in the early 90s, we’d have some really scary people come up to us on the street;  I was much less bothered by the people who said we were wrong about everything but taxes and dumping the  governor than by some of the ones who said they liked us and thought we agreed on everything except for a couple of issues (typically immigration and war and drugs and free speech, etc.)  (Ick!  At least the KKK were illiterate, unlike some of the banker-hating foreigner-hating anti-Semites who could not only write but could afford to pay for typesetting so it took longer to notice they’d left you their literature.  And then there were the LaRouchies, who were still waffling about whether to be left-wing or right-wing crazies back then, but either way it was the Rockefellers’ fault and the Queen of England was somehow involved.)

          8. Though only a little younger than you, I too have found this discussion about the use of an  Octopus being obviously anti-semitic rather surprising.

            I had not seen it used in that fashion before – or maybe I just didn’t recognise the connection other than as a means to diminish another group or express concerns about the reach or influence of some group or other.

          9. “The swastika is the defining symbol of anti-Semitism.”

            You sound smart enough to know that the Nazi’s appropriated the Swastika and it’s meaning is actually not evil. Every culture that’s had a written language and many that have not, has created a Swastika and it almost universally means Life, Luck and generally positive things.  

            Read the Wiki:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika#Historical_use_in_the_East

            And be sure to check out ManWoman, the artist who’s making it his life mission to reclaim the swastika. (someone I figure would have been featured on BoingBoing already actually.): http://manwoman.net/

  1. What year was this one published? The Railroads have long been the octopi of American capitalism. The symbolism is obvious; they had tentacles in every facet of commerce and life for a few decades. The Jewish thing, not so sure.

  2. The octopus is a metaphor for conspiracies that have influence over many different things. Nazis and other racist people imagined that Jews were all part of a giant conspiracy to take over the world, so they used that same image. So while the octopus has been used in antisemitic imagery, it’s not specific to hating Jews and it’s a very applicable metaphor in this case.

  3. The Plan called for the establishment of a National Reserve Association with 15 regional district branches and 46 geographically dispersed directors primarily from the banking profession. The Reserve Association would make emergency loans to member banks, print money, and act as the fiscal agent for the U.S. government. State and nationally chartered banks would have the option of subscribing to specified stock in their local association branch. It is generally believed that the outline of the Plan had been formulated in a secret meeting on Jekyll Island in November 1910, which Aldrich and other well connected financiers attended.

    Since the Aldrich Plan essentially gave full control of this system to private bankers, there was strong opposition to it from rural and western states because of fears that it would become a tool of certain rich and powerful financiers in New York City, referred to as the “Money Trust”.  Indeed, from May 1912 through January 1913 the Pujo Committee, a subcommittee of the House Committee on Banking and Currency, held investigative hearings on the alleged Money Trust and its interlocking directorates. These hearings were chaired by Rep. Arsene Pujo, a Democratic representative from Louisiana.

    In the election of 1912, the Democratic Party won control of the White House and both chambers of Congress. The party’s platform stated strong opposition “to the so called Aldrich bill for the establishment of a central bank.” However, the platform also called for a systematic revision of banking laws in ways that would provide relief from financial panics, unemployment and business depression, and would protect the public from the “domination by what is known as the Money Trust.”

    This refers to an early version of what became the Federal Reserve and is almost certainly anitsemitic, since the conspirati view the Fed as synonymous with Rothschilds and Reptilians.

    1. (Most) Reptilians are NOT Jews! They generally prefer a species-similar object of worship such as Set or Yig. And how one circumsizes a being who sheds their skin naturally presents a problem to many reptoids wishing to convert.

    2. No Antinous, we just KNOW that the Federal Reserve has devalued the dollar by over 95% in the century it has sucked the wealth from We the People.

      1. So you think that the dollar should have the same value that it had 100 years ago?  Economics isn’t really my thing, but that seems like a remarkable statement.

        1. Yes, inflation is basically a tax levied upon our money by a private central banking cartel.
          No lizard people involved in any part of that statement.
          No need for any nefarious clan of Mediaeval Bankers.
          Just poor stewardship of the US Dollar by a privately owned monopoly with limited government oversight.

  4. What makes it at least borderline anti-Semitic is the horns. At least, it was anti-Semitic when it was created. I don’t believe anyone today believes Jews literally have horns, so I don’t think people seeing it fresh would take that from it. Still, I’d just as soon avoid even borderline anti-Semitism in my anti-banker imagery.

  5. The octopus has been used in political cartoons historically to represent a number of things:  Standard Oil/Rockefellers, Countries (england etc), monopolies in general etc. etc.

  6. Being a hockey fanatic that lives in Detroit I slapped together the enclosed the other day. Originally it was a scene from an old horror movie about giant sea monsters with the Octopi caption.

    I have also seen some random posts on the interwebs concerning Bankers=Jews in that Wall Street protestors are anti-semitic.
    I always took it to be a right-wing theory and not left-wing theory as it was used recently (as I assume the protestors are left-leaning based on casual observation).

  7. My understanding is that back in the day the Jews where banned from many segments of local economies, while at the same time the Catholic church held a ban on usury among the faithful. As such, Jews that had wealth to spare act as a lender for desperate Christians at interest. This then placing them in the perfect position to get into banking once the reformation picked up speed. As a lot of things, antisemitism have old roots that rarely make any sense when exposed to daylight.

  8. The book is available on archive.org. And yeah, it does mention the JEWS…

    Warning to American Jews. .

    Author has no prejudice against the Jewish race. Some of his best friends are Hebrews, He greatly admires many racial traits, the marvelous history of that people and its triumph over obstacles and adverse environment in various countries during the past two thousand years.

    And author earnestly hopes that American civilization may ever proceed on the original plan, the Gentile and Jew, protestant and catholic, all enjoying equally and impartially liberty of conscience and equality of opportunity.

    But right now action is being taken by certain powerful leaders of the Hebrew race that may start in free America that dreaded European cry “Down with the Jews!” In the hope of helping to avoid the establishing of conditions here that may become for the Hebrew race as unhappy and intolerable as in other countries, even Russia, this word of warning to the Jews is sounded.

    Rothschild was a Jew. His descendants comprise the four great banking houses of that name in Europe — in London, Paris, Berlin and Vienna. In 1863 the wealth of this one family was conservatively estimated at $3,200,000,000, over three billions of dollars. This huge total compounded during the past fifty years and increased by incidental investments in mines, timber and many other things, may now amount to fifty or one hundred billions. No one outside knows the amount. With alliances controlled by this family it surely directly or indirectly controls a large portion of all government bonds and at least one-third of the world’s estimated total wealth of $377,000,000,000.

    A few more fleeting mentions (made more obscure by a bad OCR job), but frankly I haven’t the time to figure out whether the pointless distraction of anti-semitism animates his theories, or merely lends disrepute to an otherwise reasonable argument.

  9. Jerwin got in before me, but I came across the same material. The book has a long rant in the form of “A warning to American Jews” about how the Rothschilds are behind every war and wealthy Jews control the USA for their own benefit and if Jews don’t want to be exterminated they should really do something about this. So yeah, perhaps the classic antisemitic stereotype wasn’t meant to actually refer to the Jews …. but I wouldn’t bet on it.

    From page 241:
    When […] the people find that they have
    been tricked and betrayed and are helpless, the country
    may become as inhospitable as Russia to the Hebrew race,
    if unfortunately the cry goes up “Down with the Jews !”

    Many of the American people will believe that the insti-
    gators of their troubles and the chief beneficiaries are those
    greatest of all world-owning Hebrews — the Rothschilds.

    It will be to the interest of every American Hebrew out-
    side of Wall Street to have the Aldrich plan defeated, and
    every loyal citizen of this race will demand that the Gov-
    ernment of the Republic retain control of the people’s
    money supply and avoid permanently plunging this great re-
    public into the bondage of hopeless debt.

  10. I s’pose I’d have to read this thread a lot more closely to figure out what octopodes have to do with anti-Semites…  But in the meantime, I just want to take this opportunity to return the gratitude that some of the most successful banks to octopi Wall Street in recent years, have been expressing for our loyal patronage.  Thanks, banks! Thanks!

    (darnit, that Look Around You-style elision just doesn’t quite work there)

  11. I support the OWS movement as a whole but, again, this imagery has no place in it. I’m sorry to say this, but it’s extremely offensive. It’s as offensive as any other extremely offensive racial stereotype.

    The mere fact that there is so much discussion on whether or not to use this sort of imagery answers the very question it silently asks: no, it shouldn’t be used.

    It’s bad enough that many Jews are nervous about OWS and how Jews are still perceived to be controlling bankers without adding this to what can be an already delicate message.

  12. As an aside, this whole “it’s a disturbing connection” versus “no, it’s not” exchange echo the talk that was going around when Obama was depicted next to monkeys. The argument was that it wasn’t racist, because people did it to Bush.

    Either you are sensitive to the facts about the imagery depicting blacks as subhuman and “closer to primates”, or you aren’t – be it through ignorance or just wanting to ignore it. And there are plenty of fine reasons to say “why can’t we just move past it all”.
    I just hope that the people who want to ignore this issue are equally dismissive of such objections when it comes to other embattled groups.

  13. While I am loathe to support anything that even has a remote association with bashing “TEH JOOZ”, this illustration was correct, indeed prophetic, no? Yes, yes, there are some anti-semites  in OWS, as there are among conservatives, communists, libertarians, Democrats, anarchists, fascists, etc. But a point well made is still a point well made if it’s true.

    1. …some anti-semites  in OWS, as there are among…

      That’s true.  The difference is that if a conservative or tea partier was photographed with a sign saying “Get the Jews out of our bank accounts!” it would be all over the media and BB in hours or less. 

      Chris Matthews and Rachel Maddow  would both have an on camera attack of the vapors,  President Obama would issue another call for “civility” and the -Nation- would predict the Dark Night of Fascism falling over America for the 80th time in the last 70 years. 

      Probably the only media figure who would keep his mouth shut (for obvious reasons) is Al Sharpton.

      When an “occupier” carries a sign with the same anti Semitic message, the coverage is something like this:

      1. Every bit of footage I’ve seen has been of a streetpreacher/nut type and they are usually surrounded by people arguing with them.  The overtly racist and insidiously racist messages of the Tea Party were warmly embraced.  I suppose that’s endemic to a movement that was 99.9% older white people.

      1. John A Arkansawyer,  are you sure you know what it means? I’m pretty sure Wikipedia’s claim that a concern troll is a false-flag pseudonym is a case of some Wikipedia author being overly-specific. Note that the very same entry, just a few paragraphs further down, cites the phrase being used to describe “Republicans offering public advice and warnings to the Democrats”, with no mention of pseudonymity. 

        Not that I think you’re a Republican, or opposed to the OWS movement. But there’s also no reason to think that Frank W was talking about you in particular, above. 

        1. Avram, I was responding in a general way to Frank W. It’s Holly McLachlan who later said:

          You are attempting to use this very well-read blog to create an association of anti-Semitism with OWS in the minds of the readers.


          It’s fairly clever concern trolling — but that it what it is. Designed to damage the interests of those whom you purport to be interested in “helping”.

          That’s right next door to calling me a provocateur, and I don’t care for it one goddamned bit.

          Now, on reflection, while I still don’t care for the conspiracist implications of octopus imagery (though “Octopi Wall Street” is an incredibly clever slogan), I don’t think it’s generally anti-Semitic. This particular example, however, both comes from an anti-Semitic book and has those horns on it. That doesn’t carry the message of anti-Semitism to most viewers today, especially since the “Jews have horns” trope has lost its legs, but it did in its original time and context, and, given that, would make for a credible yet false accusation against those who use it innocently, just as I will not be able to admire the “Cross of Gold” speech uncritically anymore after reading your observation above, yet wonder whether Bryan had either or both of those implications in mind.

          Anyone who knows me knows that I am completely thrilled by the development of the Occupy Wall Street movement. I hope that it has enough time and space for those in it to figure out what they want. So far it seems to be united around a desire for a better world and righteous anger at the current state of things. That’s a wonderful start, and I want to see it go forward.

          The right wing is already making the claim of anti-Semitism against the movement, and I care deeply–possibly too deeply–about not letting that claim make any headway. I also know the twined history of anti-banker sentiment and anti-Semitism, and I don’t believe it’s entirely a dead idea on the right. Sometimes they project their inner feelings onto their enemies.

          Oh, and speaking of concern trolling: Wouldn’t you say the “Warning to American Jews” in the screed from which that cartoon is taken is a fine pre-internet example?

    1. These endless squabbles are so tedious. Wouldn’t it be great if everybody just agreed with you and your groovy friends and stopped all that icky thinking?

      1. One of my groovy friends is an old guy who had a narrow escape from the Hollandsche Schouwburg theatre in Amsterdam, where Jews were rounded up for transport to a Vernichtungslager, when he was a kid. None of his family were so lucky.
        I have no truck with antisemitism or any other form of racism or supremacism. I know one kind of people. Important people. The 100%. But this is ridiculous. A squid can be made to mean pretty much anything.

        1. I thought is was established above that this image came from a book which did, in fact, intend this illustration to reference Jews — or at least which included some pretty defensive statements in which the author points out how “some of [his] best friends” are Jews.

          So I’m not saying that ows’ers, or Octopi Wall Street or whoever are anti-semitic. I’m just taking issue with your claim that anyone who expresses even a concern about the use of this symbol in these comments is nothing more than a troll. Why you despise folks what think reasonable disagreement = OK?

  14. The co-opting of revered or reviled symbols is a little disturbing either way you slice it. For example, when I see tea-bag morons waving Old Glory around and holding signs with racist, ignorant or down-right stupid slogans on their signs I cringe. When the less rabid conservatives gather sporting their little flag pins but still talking a line of total BS I shake my head. But oddly I don’t see a lot of leftists, progressives or even radicals using the US flag as a symbol of their desire to seek freedom and right wrongs. I can only assume that is because it has been co-opted by a bunch of lunatics for the most part. That is sad and it should make a lot more people angry about it(inside the US anyway). Outside of the US, and depending on where you are the US flag tends to take on a different tone, ranging from disparaging glances to even being a target of sorts.

    In any case, I’m not entirely sure that the octopus as symbol is as entirely repulsive as some here think that it should be. I can see that angle but in the same vein it will continue to be a symbol of revulsion if we only allow it to be used by people with undesirable ideologies and motives. Symbols are symbols and they represent other things. It is up to us as to what those symbols mean. Don’t let the racist fuck-bags ruin yet another symbol by just giving up.

    On a side note, yeah the swastika is well and truly screwed for at least the next 500 years or so, and as such is probably the worst straw-man available to this argument, especially considering it’s very recent and very prominent association with the brand of anti-Semitic fascism.

  15. So I guess I was wrong in assuming that the anti-semitic variant of the octopus was a niche thing. My experience was that I’d seen the anti-monopoly cartoons in history books, and I’d been memorably amused by Taibbi’s “vampire squid,” and I’m still confident that that’s what most young people would think of when they see the image.  But if the Nazi associations are too much – and when it comes to Nazis, it doesn’t take much to be too much – then okay.

    However, I do think we’re losing something when we give up this image. We’re losing the history of all those other American anti-monopoly ideas. If the issue is seen as something unique to today, then it’s one side’s word against another’s – but if the issue is related in our minds to robber barons, and Teddy’s trust-busting, and Taibbi’s invective against those who caused the 2008 crisis, then there’s a continuity there which lends something to the side of the protesters.

  16. Sorry, but I don’t buy the  concern trolling over the octopus.  As so many has pointed out the octopus represents undue influence by a number of different things, but most being monopolies.  I’ve also noticed that the favorite new method of trying to discredit OWS is to put up footage of anti-Semitic urban crazies (yes the kind that are around year round and speak to any crowd that will hear them) as representative of OWS.  This is becoming a “thing” with right wing media.

  17.  If you want to use an octopus in your anti-Wall Street imagery, I can’t stop you, even though I think it’s unwise. But could I ask you to please not put horns on the damned thing?

    1. Japanese swastikas, that predate the appropriation by the Nazis. You can find older ones too, from India, other places as I recall. The question is whether it is wise to continue using symbols that have a strong racist history and connotation if you really want to win as many people over as possible. How is it worth it?

  18. It’s hard to disentangle general anti-banker sentiments from antisemitism, especially in late 19th- and early 20th-century cartoons and arguments, because the two were nearly synonymous. (It’s occurred to me that part of the genius of Bryant’s “Cross of Gold” speech was that he managed to find an image that painted both Jews and Roman Catholics as the bad guys.) 

    That said, the animal symbol I think of when I consider antisemitic cartoons is the rat, not the octopus. I don’t recall ever seeing any octopus cartoons when they taught us about the Holocaust back in Hebrew school. I’m not really inclined to take claims of the inherent antisemitism of octopus cartoons seriously without much better evidence than has been so far presented. (That’s aside from the argument that this particular individual cartoon is antisemitic because of the text that accompanies it in its original source.) 

    It wasn’t all that long ago that the neo-conservative backers of the War on Some Terrorism were hiding behind accusations that mere mention of the word “neo-conservative” was a coded antisemitic reference. Knowing how fond the right is of agents provocateurs and other false-flag operations, as well as their general tendency towards psychological projection, I’m sure we’ll all hear lots more about how the OWS movement is full of Jew-haters, even if those Jew-haters have to be hired for the purpose. 

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