Yesterday, we ran this piece on the comic strip, Foreskin Man—the blond-haired, blue-eyed superhero and fictional savior of our nation’s foreskin. But the post brought up some very interesting questions over how the villains—Dr. Mutilator and Monster Mohel—are portrayed. As GMPM editor Cooper Fleishman noted:
Obviously, Foreskin Man is intended to be more anti–child abuse than anti-Semitic, but I’m curious to hear the responses from the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish groups, who, as shown by the above panel, will not take kindly to this kind of caricature. (Here’s another—note the claws.) To the artists’ credit, this is no Der Stürmer—the villains here don’t look particularly Semitic underneath the beards and payos—but it still makes me queasy.
Well, we asked for responses, and we got some amazing ones. Check out this comment from reader Fittgers.
The hero’s insignia is the head of a penis with foreskin intact. Women dress like high-end call girls and need dates to a bris. But the creator, Matthew Hess, is painfully sincere in his message and here is where the trouble starts. If Hess gave the entire book a tongue-in-cheek tone, there would be no problem with the character Monster Mohel, but since it is played straight, a subtle tone of anti-Semitism creeps in around the corners.
The most damningly anti-Semitic panel of the comic takes place on page 36, as Foreskin Man listens in on the beginnings of the ritual. Monster Mohel, far from showing a villain’s characteristic disregard for the spirit of a thing, adheres to halacha, or Jewish law. He is clearly going through the proper rituals and pronouncements as he prepares Glick Sacks for his brit milah. He refers to it as “the sacred cut” and thanks the lord for the “joyous metzitzah b’peh” he is about to receive. Hearing this sacred ritual being performed partly in in Hebrew, Foreskin Man thinks to himself, “That’s it, Monster. Keep babbling.” This is a man who runs a museum in his day-to-day life. Earlier in the comic we learned that he had just installed an exhibit covering the Jewish ritual of brit milah. He has no respect for the culture, their beliefs, or their language. Hebrew is just the ravings of a madman when you’re Foreskin Man.
A great, well-researched comment. Check out the rest of the comment (and the original story) here. Thanks to all of you who piped up, and we hope the conversation can continue!