Hard to say if this is more bizarre or terrifying. Talk about the banality of evil. What about the evil of banality? From Reuters, Aug. 21:
MUMBAI, India – A new restaurant in India’s financial hub, named after Adolf Hitler and promoted with posters showing the German leader and Nazi swastikas, has infuriated the country’s small Jewish community.
Hitler’s Cross, which opened last week, serves up a wide range of continental fare and a big helping of controversy, thanks to a name the owners say they chose to stand out among hundreds of Mumbai eateries.
“We wanted to be different. This is one name that will stay in people’s minds,” owner Punit Shablok told Reuters. “We are not promoting Hitler. But we want to tell people we are different in the way he was different.”
But India’s remaining Jews — most migrated to Israel and the West over the years — say they are outraged by the gimmick.
“This signifies a severe lack of awareness of the agony of millions of Jews caused by one man,” said Jonathan Solomon, chairman of the Indian Jewish Federation, the community’s umbrella organization.
“We are going to stop this deification of Hitler,” he said without elaborating.
The small restaurant, its interior done out in the Nazi colors of red, white and black, also has a lounge for smoking the Indian water pipe or “hookah.”
Posters line the road leading up to it, featuring a red swastika carved in the name of the eatery. One slogan reads: “From Small Bites to Mega Joys.”
A huge portrait of a stern-looking Füehrer greets visitors at the door. The cross in the restaurant’s name refers to the swastika that symbolized the Nazi regime.
“This place is not about wars or crimes, but where people come to relax and enjoy a meal,” said restaurant manager Fatima Kabani, adding that they were planning to turn the eatery’s name into a brand with more branches in Mumbai.
The swastika has its roots in ancient Indian Hindu tradition and remains a sacred symbol for Hindus. Nazi theorists appropriated it to bolster their central hypothesis of the Aryan origins of the German people.
We are glad that India’s Jews are protesting this banal monstrosity, especially given the recent Israel-India military alliance against the perceived common enemy of Islamic extremism. As our correspondent Subuhi Jiwani has documented, there is a real fascist legacy behind contemporary Hindu extremism, with its ideologues explicitly sharing the Hitlerian theories of a glorious shared “Aryan” past of the Germanic and Indo-Aryan peoples. The mainstreaming of Nazi imagery is more ominous than it seems in the climate of contemporary India. And this is certainly perfect evidence that pro-Israel and anti-Semitic are discrete categories.
See our last post on India.