America great again: Wisconsin high school students give Nazi salute in Junior prom photo
About 50 high school students from Baraboo, Wisconsin were photographed displaying what appears to be the Nazi salute, prompting international outrage and a local investigation.
The vast majority are shown hoisting their right arms stiff and straight into the air, fingers pointed out, as Nazis did in Hitler’s Germany. One boy in the front row has his arms down but his right hand is forming the okay sign, a symbol supposedly adopted by the white power movement.
According to information from Jules Suzdaltsev, a New York-based journalist for Prompt News Online in Abuja, Nigeria, who first publicized the incident early Monday, the photo was taken during the school’s Junior class prom in the spring when photographer Pete Gust of Wheel Memories in Baraboo asked for separate photos of the boys and the girls in the Class of 2019.
A tweet from a now-deleted account includes this message: “We even got the black kid to throw it up,” according to a screenshot from Carly Sidey of Baraboo.
The photographer later removed all of the prom photos from his website, citing “malevolent behavior on the part of some in society,” USA Today reports.
“It is too bad that there are those in society who can and do take the time to be jerks, knowingly and willingly to be jerks!” Gust wrote. “To anyone that was hurt, I sincerely apologize.”
The school district posted a message about the photo on its Facebook page Monday:
“The photo of students posted to #BarabooProud is not reflective of the educational values and beliefs of the School District of Baraboo,” the post read. “We are investigating and will pursue any and all available and appropriate actions, including legal, to address.”
One student, who identified himself as Jordan Blue to journalist Jules Suzdaltsev, texted that he couldn’t get away quickly enough from the group photo after he realized what was happening.
I spoke with the only student who is visibly not comfortable with the “salute”, he provided this statement. pic.twitter.com/HbNBc8xLOK— Jules Suzdaltsev (@jules_su) November 12, 2018
The Auschwitz Museum in Oświęcim, Poland, was bewildered:
“It is so hard to find words...
“This is why every single day we work hard to educate. We need to explain what is the danger of hateful ideology rising. Auschwitz with its gas chambers was at the very end of the long process of normalizing and accommodating hatred.”
It is so hard to find words...— Auschwitz Memorial (@AuschwitzMuseum) November 12, 2018
This is why every single day we work hard to educate. We need to explain what is the danger of hateful ideology rising. Auschwitz with its gas chambers was at the very end of the long process of normalizing and accommodating hatred. https://t.co/13AzZaMGJR
Wisconsin politicians also reacted to the photo and promised to “be in contact with Baraboo officials.” “Intolerance and bigotry must never be tolerated, in our schools or anywhere else,” Democratic Gov.-elect Tony Evers said.
State Sen. Jon Erpenbach, a Democrat from Middleton, who represents the Baraboo area said he was appalled and wants to know more about how the photo cam about.
“I saw it, and it’s disgusting,” he said. “There is absolutely no place in the world for something like that.”