It wasn’t that big a story. According to the BBC, which devoted all of nine sentences to it, two Chinese tourists were arrested in Berlin on Saturday for taking snapshots of each other making Hitler salutes outside the German parliament.
Owing to that nation’s strict laws on hate speech and symbols linked to Nazism, the pair is in hot water. Each could face a fine or a prison sentence of up to three years.
As stated earlier, it’s not that big a deal. It is nice to know that Germany takes seriously the atrocities that Hitler visited on innocent people, but the biggest takeaway from the story is the reminder that when visiting other countries, tourists would be well advised to learn and observe the laws and customs of that country. Barack Obama, who was spurned for chewing gum in a formal parade in India in 2015, would have benefited from that advice.
But back to Berlin and what we can learn from the experiences of those two hapless Chinese. Here is what wannabe comedian Chelsea Handler extracted from the incident.
2 Chinese guys were arrested in Berlin for making nazi salutes. Wouldn’t it be nice 2 have laws here for people who think racism is funny?
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) August 7, 2017
Where to begin? First of all, Handler appears to be assuming that the action by the Chinese men was racist — presumably that they were mocking the 6 million Jews who died in Hitler’s “showers.” Does anyone besides her see it that way?
The more puzzling part of her tweet is the moral she delivers in her rhetorical question. The laws in Germany forbidding the use of Nazi gestures, passed shortly after the end of the World War II, were grounded in a desire to prevent that ideology from ever again spreading. They are not intended to spare hurt feelings.