Tony Parker, earlier in December (Getty Images)
San Antonio Spurs All-Star Tony Parker could be in some damning trouble for recently posing with controversial French comedian Dieudonne while posing with what many construe to be an anti-Semitic gesture. Parker, the French-born guard who was the 2007 NBA Finals MVP, made what is called a “quenelle,” a gesture that is ascribed by some merely to be anti-establishment, but described by others as modern take on the infamous Nazi party salute.
One report states that Parker was photographed giving the quenelle alongside the comic before the season started. If such a gesture offends you, you’ve been warned that it follows below the jump:
Neither Parker nor the Spurs commented initially, merely telling the media that they were observing the situation and figuring out a course of action:
Spurs are aware of the brewing "quenelle" controversy in France that has enveloped Tony Parker, will address the issue in the coming days.
— Dan McCarney (@danmccarneysaen) December 30, 2013
Some reports have also suggested that the photo Parker took with Dieudonne was taken some years before, and that the gesture in question has taken on more anti-Semitic overtones in the years since. If Dieudonne has gone off the rails following that photo, it’s very possible that Parker was merely aping the comic’s signature pose, not unlike some doofus giving the Dane Cook symbol in a photograph from 2006.
Whether Parker supports Dieudonne’s leanings is less clear, but it is safe to say that they are pretty out there. From News.au:
The comedian, whose full name is Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala, has been fined seven times for defamation, insult, hate speech and for racial discrimination.
He has described Holocaust celebrations as "memorial pornography", made "Heil"-like signs on television as part of a sketch and befriended far-right leaders such as Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Dieudonne decries what he calls the "domination of Zionists" in Western societies and the overemphasis on the horrors of the Holocaust to the exclusion of other crimes, like slavery and racism.
This is why football star Nicolas Anelka was criticized for recently giving the gesture in a match in Britain, and could face a league suspension. If it’s proven that Parker took the photo recently, well-aware of its anti-Semitic significance, he could and should be in some hot water with the NBA and his scores of fans.
“It’s the Nazi salute in reverse,” Roger Cukierman, leader of the French partner of the World Jewish Congress, told Reuters.
Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights group named after the Nazi hunter, urged Parker on Sunday to “apologize for his past use of the quenelle ‘Nazi’ salute,” according to the Algemeiner.
“As a leading sports figure on both sides of the Atlantic, Parker has a special moral obligation to disassociate himself from a gesture that the government of France has identified as anti-Semitic,” Cooper said.
On Monday, Parker released a statement through the team:
"While this gesture has been part of French culture for many years, it was not until recently that I learned of the very negative concerns associated with it. When l was photographed making that gesture three years ago, I thought it was part of a comedy act and did not know that it could be in any way offensive or harmful. Since I have been made aware of the seriousness of this gesture, I will certainly never repeat the gesture and sincerely apologize for any misunderstanding or harm relating to my actions. Hopefully this incident will serve to educate others that we need to be more aware that things that may seem innocuous can actually have a history of hate and hurt."
This seems appropriate. Parker thought he was just impresonation a comedian's famous gesture, and wasn't aware that the comic in question had moved on in recent years to amp up the arm movement as a way to protest what he calls the "domination of Zionists."
We'll update if the league or the Spurs decide to take further action.
- - - - - - -
- Tony Parker
- San Antonio Spurs