Jonathan Chait

“[I]f I have to read another book about the Holocaust, I’ll kill a Jew myself.”

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[Guest post by Ruth Franklin:]

In Cannes the other day Lars von Trier proved, grossly and witlessly, that no amount of irony can catch up with an expression of sympathy for Hitler and the Nazis. Now a similarly pathetic attempt at cute Holocaust humor has appeared in The Daily Beast. The online publication posted a screed by Dale Peck about the death of the book business in which he complained about the industry’s stagnancy. Peck’s pugnacious style is well known, and was honed in the pages of this magazine. But the tagline at the top of Peck’s piece was, even by his hatchet’s standards, a shocker. “[I]f I have to read another book about the Holocaust, I’ll kill a Jew myself,” Peck trumpeted in boldface type. How funny. (Perhaps The New Republic owes Rick Moody an apology.)

And the grim little episode gets worse. Apparently Peck’s editors had second thoughts about the quality of his joke, because an hour later it had been removed. What makes their bowdlerization of Peck’s piece especially noteworthy is that a large part of the piece was a complaint about the recent bowdlerization of Mark Twain by certain stupid publishers. So Peck disgraced himself once, and his editors disgraced themselves twice. Nice work. (But the matter will not be so quickly forgotten: a cached version of the article, with the line intact, is available here.)

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