Jimmy Carr condemned for ‘abhorrent’ Holocaust joke about Roma people

Memorial day charity ‘appalled’ at comedian’s remarks about Nazi killings in Netflix special

Anti-hate groups including the Holocaust Memorial Day Trust, the Auschwitz Memorial and Hope Not Hate have condemned Jimmy Carr for his comments about the Gypsy, Roma and Traveller community in his Netflix special.

The show, called His Dark Material, was released on Christmas Day but received widespread attention on Friday after a clip was posted and shared online.

Carr said: “When people talk about the Holocaust, they talk about the tragedy and horror of 6 million Jewish lives being lost to the Nazi war machine. But they never mention the thousands of Gypsies that were killed by the Nazis.

“No one ever wants to talk about that, because no one ever wants to talk about the positives.”

The statement prompted laughter and clapping from the audience.

The Holocaust Memorial Day Trust – a charity founded by the government to support the UK’s national commemoration day – said on Friday that the jokes were “abhorrent”.

Olivia Marks-Woldman, its chief executive, said: “We are absolutely appalled at Jimmy Carr’s comment about persecution suffered by Roma and Sinti people under Nazi oppression, and horrified that gales of laughter followed his remarks.

“Hundreds of thousands of Roma and Sinti people suffered prejudice, slave labour, sterilisation and mass murder simply because of their identity – these are not experiences for mockery.”

In the special, Carr, known for his standup and roles on shows such as 8 Out Of 10 Cats, went on to explain why he thought it was a good joke, saying that it was “fucking funny”, “edgy as hell” and had an educational value.

“It’s a joke about the worst thing that’s ever happened in human history, and people say ‘never forget’, well this is how I remember,” he said.

“There is an educational quality. Like everyone in the room knows 6 million Jewish people lost their lives to the Nazis during the second world war. But a lot of people don’t know, because it’s not really taught in our schools, that the Nazis also killed, in their thousands, Gypsies, homosexuals, disabled people and Jehovah’s Witnesses.”

But his justifications did little to assuage the reaction. Hope Not Hate, the UK’s leading anti-fascism and anti-racism campaign group, said: “Comedy is an amazing tool for progressive change and it’s such a shame that Jimmy Carr decided to use his platform to celebrate the murder of one of the most marginalised groups in society.”

The Auschwitz Memorial urged Carr to “learn about the fate of some 23 thousand Roma & Sinti deported to Auschwitz” in a tweet to its 1.2 million followers.

Meanwhile, the Labour MP Nadia Whittome wrote to Netflix urging the company to remove the material from its platform. She said she had also requested an update from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport on progress to bring streaming platforms under Ofcom regulation.

I have written urging Netflix to remove Jimmy Carr’s vile anti-GRT and antisemitic material.

I have also requested an update from @DCMS on progress to bring streaming platforms under Ofcom regulation.

My full solidarity with GRT communities, today and always. pic.twitter.com/We6MRJVyjb

— Nadia Whittome MP (@NadiaWhittomeMP) February 4, 2022

“In funding, streaming and profiting from this material, Netflix is legitimising and perpetuating racism,” Whittome wrote in her letter.

“Material of the kind on your platform does not exist in isolation and it has real-life consequences.”

It will be an unwelcome row for Netflix, which last year faced an intense backlash and a staff walkout after comments made by Dave Chappelle about transgender people in his comedy special.

Mikey Walsh, the author of the bestselling memoir Gypsy Boy, tweeted that he didn’t know what he should be more “disgusted” by, “the kind of Racism that us GRT people are forced to live with every day … that it’s still absolutely ok to demonise us & our demise as a joke … or the reactions of whooping and cheering from the audience”.

Absolutely zero accountability will come from this..we as Travellers, Roma & Gypsies in the UK know full well that hatred towards us is seen as a good thing.
Ever seen one of the many GRT racists in Parliament ever held accountable?
That’s because GRT Racism Is a vote winner here

— Mikey Walsh (@thatbloodyMikey) February 4, 2022

Netflix and representatives of Carr have been contacted for comment.


Nadia Khomami Arts and culture correspondent

The GuardianTramp

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