MANHATTAN – Upper East Side City Council Member Julie Menin has penned a scathing letter calling for the Comic Strip’s general manager to formally apologize for the anti-Semitic language used in a recent post to the comedy club’s Instagram account– attempting to draw a false equivalency between the horrors of the Holocaust and Covid-19 vaccination mandates.
“I write on behalf of our constituents … who are dismayed by the antisemitic sentiments expressed in your latest Instagram posting,” Council Member Menin’s letter begins.
“I am disappointed in Comic Strip Live’s decision to condone hatred and division in our community and call on you to issue a formal apology condemning the toxic comparisons between COVID-19 mandates and the atrocities of the Holocaust,” she adds.
“We must reject messaging that co-opts violence and animosity towards our neighbors.”
Upper East Site was first to report on the problematic post, which appeared around 8:00 am Sunday morning, featuring a video of the American flag on display above the club— located on Second Avenue between East 81st and 82nd Streets— and the caption, in all caps, “GOD BLESS THE USA.”
A closer look at the post’s initial hashtags— as screen-shotted by Upper East Site— shows there’s more to the post than just patriotism— it expresses opposition to Covid-19 vaccination requirements, “#F(uck) mandates,“ and also uses anti-Semitic language, “#Nurenberg [sic].”
The misspelled reference is typically made by anti-vaxxers in an attempt to draw false equivalency between current Covid-19 vaccination mandates and the human experimentation done on Jews by Nazi Germany and the subsequent establishment Nuremberg Code— a set of ethical principals for medical research— following World War II.
“The Holocaust was an intentional, coordinated, state-sponsored persecution and murder of over six million Jews, and numerous disabled persons, LGBTQ+ individuals, prisoners of war, and others,” Council Member Menin’s letter to the Comic Strip reads.
“As the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, the sins of these atrocities will never be a distant historical memory, and comparisons open fresh wounds. Condoning antisemitism leads to more hatred and violence.”
When Upper East Site made the Comic Strip aware on Sunday that drawing the false equivalency is widely considered to be anti-Semitic, they fired back, defending their opinion.
“We don’t believe it’s false,” the Comic Strip said.
“If the Jewish community has issue, it’s BECAUSE of our love for them, and our awareness of ‘slippery slopes’ that we recognize this.”
After letting them know that we already had been contacted by someone in Jewish community who was offended, the reference was removed.
“Awww, that’s awful, please reach out and let them know, not out intent,” the person operating the Comic Strip’s Instagram account told Upper East Site on Sunday morning.
We further explained that the absence of intent to do harm does not negate the harm done— in this case the pain inflicted on Jewish members of our community. To that, we received a sharp reply from the Comic Strip.
“So you’re accusing us of being anti Semitic?” they wrote back.
“Members of the Jewish community are,” we replied.
“The name calling never ends does it?,” the Comic Strip asked rhetorically in response.
After explaining once again why linking Holocaust atrocities to vaccination mandates is viewed as anti-Semitic, the person operating the Comic Strip’s instagram account replied “I don’t really have to understand it, to respect their feelings. Took it down immediately.”
Located on Second Avenue between East 81st and 82nd Streets, the Comic Strip has been an Upper East Side institution since 1976— featuring top comics and up-and-comers for 45 years, including Adam Sandler, Eddie Murphy, Chris Rock, Jerry Seinfeld. Before his famous sitcom, Seinfeld spent his early days performing at the Comic Strip and even filmed a 2017 Netflix special inside the storied comedy club.
More recently you could find Leslie Jones, TJ Miller, Judah Friedlander and Michael Rappaport headlining or making guest appearances.
“Many comedians from different backgrounds have graced the stage at Comic Strip Live,” Council Member Menin’s letter to the Comic Strip’s general manager concludes.
“As a longstanding establishment within our neighborhood, I urge you to apologize and lead community solidarity against hate and persecution.”
Attempts to reach Comic Strip management and ownership have not been returned.