If you rode the New York City subway Monday and hoped not to be confronted with imagery associated with Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, you would be disappointed.
Amazon decked out NYC public transit in ads for their new show The Man in the High Castle, which takes place in an alternate history in which America loses World War II and is governed by Germany and Japan. Though there weren’t any, you know, actual swastikas, the German-inspired flag featured a twist on the Reichsadler Eagle used as a Nazi symbol.
“Half the seats in my car had Nazi insignias inside an American flag, while the other half had the Japanese flag in a style like the World War II design,” Ann Toback, executive director of Jewish cultural organization The Workmen’s Circle, told Gothamist. “So I had a choice, and I chose to sit on the Nazi insignia because I really didn’t want to stare at it.”
Toback continues that although she didn’t have a problem with the show per se, “I shouldn’t have to sit staring at a Nazi insignia on my way to work.”
The Workmen’s Circle was founded in 1892 and resisted fascism starting in 1933. So, some history there.
The ads were placed by OUTFRONT Media, who were in the news recently for subway ads for menstrual underwear that faced intense MTA scrutiny before a public outcry led to their approval.
These images are especially disturbing in the wake of the recent uptick in frankly racist anti-immigrant sentiments stemming from the Paris attacks. This may be a case of unforeseeably poor timing, but this fiction hews uncomfortably close to truth.
We wonder what the negotiation process for literal Nazi imagery was like. Was it easier to get approval for these than ads featuring the word “period?"