Kid Wins a School Prize for Hitler Costume -- What Year Is It Again?


In a time when a sizable portion of humanity seems at least moderately concerned with being as inoffensive as possible, you'd think stories like this one would, well, stop being stories: A boy in Australia recently won his school's Book Week "Best Dressed" award for disguising himself as none other than Adolf Hitler, a misstep for which his principal has since apologized. The question, though, is why was he allowed to dress up like Hitler in the first place ... and then, even more incomprehensibly, why was he given an award for it?


To make matters worse, the school, St Philip's College in Alice Springs, was apparently hosting Jewish students from Melbourne at the time of the Book Week parade. Still, the school is calling the costume and subsequent prize an "innocent mistake" in a statement (even though the boy was given permission to wear it):

This was an innocent mistake by a teacher who is a respected, honorable and lovely person who got it wrong on the day.

The student involved has an interest in history and politics and did the right thing by getting permission for his 'book week' costume.

The school apologizes unreservedly for any offense that has been caused. We have been in touch with the principal of the visiting students who were present on the day and they have accepted our apology.

We are reviewing our policies on these kind of events to ensure that nothing like this can happen again.

The school is providing support and assistance to the teacher, the student, and their family. It has been a very distressing lesson for all concerned.

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Distressing is one word for it. Outrageous is another. When will people learn that it's just a flat-out bad idea to dress up in costumes that completely mock and ridicule the painful and tragic pasts of entire populations?

It's not just Hitler, after all. People are still inexplicably doing the blackface thing -- everyone from the (also Australian) kid who recently dressed up as AFL player Nic Naitanui for his school's Book Week to celebrities like country singer Jason Aldean, whose comments this week on his Halloween costume from last year (a blackfaced Lil Wayne) were almost as disgusting as the disguise itself: "In this day and age people are so sensitive that no matter what you do, somebody is going to make a big deal out of it," he said.

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Well, yeah, Jason. Because it IS a big deal. It's disrespectful. It's hateful. It's not at all funny. As a society, at this point, we should know better. But we don't -- not yet. And unfortunately, with incidents like these happening in schools, of all places, it doesn't seem like we're going to know any better anytime soon, either. If we don't teach the next generation to be more tolerant and compassionate, what hope do we have as a species?

Sensitivity is a sign of strength. It's a sign of wisdom. It's a sign that someone values respect and understanding over cheap shots and empty laughs. Honestly, in "this day and age," maybe people aren't sensitive enough. 


Image via EvelynGiggles/Flickr

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