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“Ringleaders, followers, and dipsh-ts:” Sarah Silverman on that Nazi prom photo

It’s terrifying that most people understand “Nazi prom photo” as random news detritus from this week, rather than something much more unnerving.

“Ringleaders, followers, and dipsh-ts:” Sarah Silverman on that Nazi prom photo

What: A comprehensive, somehow funny take on the Nazi prom photo that emerged earlier this week.

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Who: Sarah Silverman

Why we care: Silverman’s Hulu show I Love You, America feels ironically titled this week, as she focuses her laser wit and ire on the dozens of American high school boys who recently gave a Nazi salute in their prom photo.

For those just catching up, earlier this week Vice journalist Jules Suzdaltsev tweeted the above-mentioned photo, asking for more information about it from students of Baraboo High School. The tweet went viral and the phrase “Nazi prom photo” roared into the public consciousness, a thing we zeigeisters now have to know for an indeterminate time. On the segment of her show devoted to the photo, Silverman seems determined not to let the photo be “just another thing” but rather a flashpoint to show how easily the banality of evil can creep into daily life.

She understands that some of the students were merely goaded by the adult photographer into doing the Nazi salute ironically (????), but she questions whether the students themselves understand what they’re doing.

“I’m not too PC. I’ve dressed up as Hitler and I’ve made about 6 million Holocaust jokes,” she says, the specific number “6 million” itself a dark Holocaust meta-joke. She touts her offensiveness credentials in order to point out how pretending to be a Nazi isn’t simply an un-PC joke, but rather capitulation to evil. She explains that all it takes to let Nazis flourish are “ringleaders, followers, and dipshits,” all of which are accounted for in this photo.

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Thankfully, as Silverman points out, also in the group is one student who understood what was happening and opted out. Here’s hoping that, overall, people like him far outnumber the people who, say, scream “Heil Hitler” during a performance of Fiddler on the Roof. The report about that incident doesn’t mention whether the offender was joking or not. Because it doesn’t matter.

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