It’s Not a Joke


Courtesy of Twitter User @itsavarose_

White students pose with a Nazi salute in front of cups that were rearranged into a swastika.

Tiffany Vo, Photojournalist

On March 2, twitter user @itsavarose_ tweeted out an “absolutely disgusting” image from a party involving students from Newport Harbor High School. In the picture, red solo cops can be seen rearranged into a swastika, while white students pose with a Nazi salute. The tweet went viral, making national news, and Eva Schloss, Anne Frank’s sister, even went to meet with some of the students involved.


Officials from the school have addressed these actions, stating that “while these actions did not occur on any school campus or school function, we condemn all acts of anti-Semitism and hate in all their forms.” It has also been reported that students from Costa Mesa High School and Estancia High were also in attendance.


While some may think the picture is harmless and another example of reckless students in high school, it is actually more harmful than it appears. Some blame the lack of education, but the issue is that the excuse is unreasonable. In 2019, Newport Harbor High School is a highly educated school, in a highly educated area. Blaming the blatant ignorance on lack of education seems more like a deflection, rather than a focus on the real issue: the students’ willingness to joke about a historical catastrophe that murdered millions of innocent people. These students are educated; they know and have learned about the Holocaust. A student even claims that they “studied the Holocaust just last month,” complete with teachers even showing “graphic videos of the concentration camps.” So why did they still do it?


“It was a joke” and “none of [them] are… Nazi supporters,” one student told another in a group chat. The problem is that they thought it was funny or a “joke” in the first place. According to the LA Times,  U.S. Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach) emphasizes that “it doesn’t matter whether or not they thought it was funny. When we joke about Nazism, its history loses meaning — and we cannot forget that history.”


Caitlyn Guntle (11) used to know one of the students who posted the original photo to her Snapchat and attended the party. According to Guntle, the student was “always really nice” and probably had “no bad intentions” by posting the photo. However, Guntle, in her personal opinion, does not think it is “okay to joke about something like that.” She was shocked to see a post “so vulgar,” and that it was overall “horrific.” To this day, she has not spoken with the girl at the party.


Twitter user @JardinTaylor notes how “NO other race gets bored and just starts doing racist stuff for no reason at all.” If the community proves to these students that their actions have consequences, they will be forced to learn to be decent human beings who take into consideration the horrid actions their own race and ancestors have caused.


However, when other students became aware of the incident, numerous students wore blue the following Monday to stand in solidarity with the Jewish community. A student named Jocelyn expresses how “no one needs to be Jewish to be offended; we’re offended because it’s wrong.”


Recently on March 11, however, Newport Harbor principal reports a case where Nazi posters were seen all over the school. Ten Nazi posters were plastered throughout the campus but have now been taken down. This came to light a week after the photo of the party arised. Even with the community and nation outraged, some still choose to indulge in hatred acts, and the actions were probably influenced by the first incident, according to CBS.


In this day and age, with less and less living Holocaust survivors to pass on their stories, it is our duty to teach and educate the youth in order for history to maintain its significance. Issues do not become less impactful as time continues. It is not just some “edgy joke” for a group of white students to do the Nazi salute. As they mature into the future leaders, it is crucial for all to act with respect towards historical events that impacted generations to come. Ignorance and hateful acts should not be ignored; it should always be handled with the utmost seriousness, for something big always starts from something little.