Two Minnesota teenagers used the Nazi salute and references to Hitler in an attempt to ask girls to a school dance, NBC News is reporting. Now school officials and local Jewish community leaders are demanding answers.
For years now, it’s been a thing for teenagers to ask each other to school dances — usually prom (read about “promposals” for more information) — in clever or elaborate ways. But two lads from Minnetonka High School, outside of Minneapolis, may have taken a things a bit too far in their Valentine’s Day “Sweethearts” Dance proposal.
In a photo that went viral on social media before being deleted, the young men were seen giving the Nazi salute; right arm extended, fingers out, palm down. With the hands that weren’t giving the salute, they held a sign.
“Sweethearts would be a Hit(ler) w/ you, and I could Nazi myself going w/ anyone else. Be Mein? Yes or Nein?.”
A girl, whose name has not been revealed, posted the image on social media.
“Also I would like to state I am not anti-Semitic in any way, I hate all races equally.”
Perhaps not surprisingly, the photo went viral on social media, where it was not at all well-received. Eventually the girl was asked to take it down, which she did.
Still, the damage has been done, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Superintendent Dennis Peterson sent an e-mail Friday, lamenting that the district’s attempts to teach its students about the horrors of the Holocaust, including having actual Holocaust survivors speak to the kids at the school, apparently failed to resonate with these two boys, who apparently thought of it as fodder for a joke.
'Do the right thing and represent us well.' Minnetonka High School's principal speaks out against students who gave Nazi salute in a photo posted to social media. | https://t.co/kjMpYYQuRz pic.twitter.com/bQkoCVHDUj— WCCO - CBS Minnesota (@WCCO) January 18, 2019
“While I do not know whether it was an intentionally hateful message or was created out of ignorance, be assured the students will be disciplined for their actions.”
Neither the students’ names nor the disciplinary action they will face are likely to be revealed to the media, due to laws that protect the privacy of children in public schools.
Parents in the community are outraged. Wendy Rosenthal, who is the parent of a ninth-grader at the school, says there is no way those boys couldn’t have known that what they were doing was wrong.
Rabbi Tzvi Kupfer, adviser to the school’s Jewish Student Union (JSU), said that he was appalled when he saw the photo, and wondered if the school is providing a safe environment for Jewish students.
“They said they just don’t feel safe going to school anymore. This is not something that should be joked about.”
This is the second time in a few months that high school students have been caught giving the Nazi salute. Back in November 2018, as the New York Times reported at the time, a large group of teens from a Wisconsin school were also caught on camera appearing to give the Nazi salute; they were not punished.