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How Did Sideshow Bob Get On Alaska's Human Rights Commission?
A license plate reading '3REICH' and the mysteries of interpretation.
Alaskans were outraged over the weekend when social media posts circulated showing a couple of big ol' Hummer pickup trucks driving around Anchorage with Nazi-themed license plates that had somehow been issued by the State of Alaska. One read "3REICH," and the other read "FUHRER." Local politicians promised to get to the bottom of how the state's Department of Motor Vehicles could have approved the offensive vanity plates. Just look at the shameful things!
Left: Photo by Matthew Tunseth. Right: Photo by Eva Gardner.
No, they're not the same truck; different exhausts. Who knows, maybe one creepy owner that nobody wants to admit knowing?
But one brave free speech defender, Anchorage Assembly member Jamie Allard, took to Facebook to dismiss the Fuhrer furor as nothing more than a bunch of politically correct nonsense. In a now-deleted Facebook post , Allard explained that, well ACTUALLY, Führer is simply German for leader , and Reich just means realm , as any educated person would know:
If you speak the language fluently, you would know that [is] the English definition of the word, the progressives have put a spin on it and created their own definition.
It's really a persuasive case, because as we all know, no one who speaks German could be evil.
Oh, yes, and we should probably mention that, until Tuesday at least, Allard had been a member of the Alaska Human Rights Commission, which is charged with investigating discrimination complaints. Yee haw.
We're especially charmed by Allard's poker-faced insistence that, were it not for "progressives," Führer and Reich would be completely without negative connotations. History, as noted anti-Semite Henry Ford said, is bunk.
Indeed, she went on, wondering why you libs are getting all upset about foreign languages at all?
Now, before you know it the German word Danke will be outlawed as it sounds close to Donkey. Please leave taco out of this! Ban on foreign words? Do they know how idiotic they sound?
Now, before you accuse Ms. Allard of arguing in obscenely bad faith and pretending she has no idea at all why words chiefly associated with Nazism might be offensive, I think it's important that we also consider the possibility that she's just a fucking idiot. And then we should immediately dismiss that possibility.
Sure, it's possible some extremely naive person might think the only thing that mattered was the most limited, denotative meaning of the words. But if that were the case, they wouldn't then add in the bizarre notion that progressives are out to smear those perfectly fine, neutral German words. What's more, they certainly wouldn't spin out the goofy idea that progressives are out to "ban foreign words," since everyone knows lefties want a taco truck on every corner, and that we simply adore foreigners, to the exclusion of even liking America all that much.
Also, a reply to Allard's Facebook message asked her, reasonably enough, about that 3 in "3REICH," which refers to only one government ever in world history. Naturally enough, she blew it off and again pretended people were inexplicably upset over foreign words:
People were quite clear about being outraged the DMV would approve license plates with Nazi words on them, and Eva Gardner, who complained about the "FUHRER" plate, told the local paper she's Jewish and that members of her grandfather's family had been murdered in the Holocaust. So Allard's pretense that this is only about "foreign words" doesn't pass the smell test.
Tuesday, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy kicked Allard off the Human Rights Commission, and a spokesperson issued a statement that didn't even mention Nazism at all:
The comments made by Ms. Allard regarding the license plate controversy have become a distraction for the Human Rights Commission and its mission to ensure equality and fair treatment of all Alaskans. [...] Governor Dunleavy felt it was in the best interest of the board to remove her effective immediately.
For her part, Allard agreed it might be best if she concentrated on representing the good people of Anchorage, which in her case seems to involve encouraging restaurants to violate pandemic restrictions on occupancy, for Liberty. In her own statement , Allard said it had been a great honor, yadda yadda, and also she doesn't like racism one bit, and also she is the real victim here:
I unequivocally condemn racism in every form, and support the mission of the commission 100%. In light of recent attacks against me, I feel it is best to step aside, so the commission can focus on its work, and it will allow me more time to focus on my Assembly duties.
Mind you, she was "stepping aside" because Dunleavy had removed her, so let's not give her too big a medal for her brave sacrifice. Alaska Public Media also reports that the Assembly may decide to boot her from committee assignments, or possibly censure her. Dang, all that just for her dedication to accurate translation?
But what the fuck was up with those license plates, anyway? Alaska's rules for personalized plates prohibit references to "violence, drugs, law enforcement, race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and other government entities," and applications are screened before plates are issued.
Department of Administration Commissioner Kelly Tshibaka, who's the boss of the DMV, issued a statement explaining that both plates had, in fact, already been recalled by the DMV, and new plates issued to replace them. As far as the DMV is concerned, the Nazi plates are invalid, and, Tshibaka said, "We are notifying law enforcement that these plates are unauthorized by the DMV."
While DMV officials wouldn't answer the Anchorage Daily News's questions on how the plates made it past the screening process, a DMV spox did explain that the driver could be cited for driving with invalid plates. That made Ms. Gardner wonder even more about the person with the "FUHRER" plates: "This person is so committed to this anti-Semitic message they are driving around risking a ticket?"
Well sure. For freedom, apparently. That, or a deep commitment to teaching foreign languages.
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