In today’s world of booming media and speedy communication, increasing importance is placed on political correctness. Once a high-profile personality makes a problematic statement, things can quickly spin out of control.
The recent incident with John Galliano, former head designer of French fashion house Dior, unfolded like a whirlwind. The 50-year-old British designer was arrested on Feb. 24 for allegedly using anti-Semitic and racist insults in a verbal accost with a couple in a Paris bar, according to AFP. Police said his blood alcohol level was several times over the legal limit for driving (which is 0.05 in France).While Galliano’s lawyer denied accusations of anti-Semitism, Dior suspended Galliano the next day due to its zero tolerance policy toward the matter. This firm action calmed the public but stirred uneasiness because the label’s show at Paris Fashion Week was only a week away.
What led to Galliano’s dismissal from Dior on March 1, however, was a video circulating on the Internet. The clip shows Galliano slurring an anti-Semitic rant in the same bar, which included profanities and the statement “I love Hitler.”
Natalie Portman, who had been in the news a lot recently for winning an Oscar’s Best Actress, just so happens to be Jewish and the face of Miss Dior Cherie perfume. She was “shocked and disgusted” by this video and did not wish to be associated with Galliano in any way.
Taken into context, the designer could have been intoxicated and partially provoked by the people who recorded the video. Vogue Italia and Diane Von Furstenberg had voiced their opinions in defense of Galliano. However, they still had to condemn the severely offensive content of what he said.
What’s intriguing is that John Galliano is not the only celebrity whose reputation has been tainted for having anti-Semitic attitude lately. Charlie Sheen, who has been going through a public meltdown and bizarre media tour, was censured for anti-Semitic comments. WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange was quoted complaining about a “Jewish conspiracy” against his organization.
Could these disturbing incidents reported in the media mean a rise in anti-Semitism? In a Huffington Post article, Rabbi Jason Miller says that this is not the case. He simply sees it as a trend of high-profile individuals making anti-Semitic statements. Miller speculates that “these hate-filled tirades reveal the true sentiments of these celebrities” and hopes for their apologies and behavioral changes.
An apology is obviously not enough in the case of John Galliano, who is facing 6 months in prison and a fine of $31,200 in the criminal trial, according to Le Parisien. In the latest update by the New York Times, he had been struggling with alcohol problems and is now on the way to rehab.
John Galliano’s situation is more than an anti-Semitic attitude – he is a talented individual with a troubled lifestyle. However, his case aptly demonstrates the grave consequences for making politically incorrect statements.
Yet, it’s still disconcerting to realize that even fear of public condemnation would not change someone’s anti-Semitic or racist attitude. It takes a lot to ease prejudices and instill inclusiveness of diversity in our society.