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Ron Radosh

Merriment at the NYT: Visit the Marxist Center for Real Fun!

November 5th, 2010 - 8:20 am

You have to hand it to the  New York Times. Its editors know their audience. Hence the little would-be humor column about informing its readers “Where Marxists make Merry” detailing where the unrepentant NYC communists of all sects evidently go to get their fill of propaganda combined with evening poker games. Harmless and funny, right?

But not so fast. Just pause a moment and re-write the same column substituting “fascist” for Marxist, as in “Where Fascists make Merry.” Readers would respond in fury. How dare their beloved daily paper trivialize the crimes of the fascists, who supported Hitler’s death camps, the attempt to make war on the world and take over Western and Eastern Europe, the Russian empire, and even Great Britain — upon which it regularly bombarded London with Werner Von Braun’s new rocket bombs.

Let us take and re-write, for example, the following paragraph:

But there is also the monthly Game Night, when regulars put down their copies of Das Kapital and immerse themselves in table tennis, football and a complicated Marxist version of Monopoly called, appropriately, Class Struggle. In a city known for cynicism, the Brecht, which survives on donations, is a surprisingly open and idealistic place.

Below is the new version you might have seen had they extolled the happiness of local fascists:

But there is also the monthly Game Night, when regulars put down their copies of Mein Kampf and immerse themselves in table tennis, football and a  Fascist version of Parchesi called, appropriately, Juden Raus. It was a children’s game published in Germany by Günther & Co. in 1936, just one year after the Nuremberg Laws were put into effect. The game was advertised as “entertaining, instructive and solidly constructed. The game’s equipment includes a pair of dice, a game board, and several game piece figurines with large pointed hats meant to represent Jews. Players take turns rolling the dice and moving their “Jews” across the map toward “collection points” outside the city walls for deportation to Palestine. Written on the game board, it says “If you manage to see off 6 Jews, you’ve won a clear victory.”

When British comrades join the merriment, they shift instead to playing Bomber über England (“Bombers over England”) a bagatelle (or pinball) style game that featured a map of England and part of Northern Europe. The map contained holes in the location of key cities such as London, Liverpool, and Newcastle, as well as various points representing targets in the North Sea. Players shot spring-driven balls representing “bombs” at these targets and were awarded various points for hitting the enemy targets. “Players were awarded a maximum 100 points for landing on London, while Liverpool was worth 40. If players bombed locations under the control of Nazi Germany such as Brussels and Amsterdam, players would be deducted points.

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