You’ve Heard of ‘Where’s Waldo’, Now It’s Time for ‘Where’s Hillary’?

Remember seeing this ‘Situation Room’ image? The one from the White House released showing President Obama and members of his security team watching the situation with Osama Bin Laden unfold?

Well, if you are a member of a certain Orthodox Hasidic Jewish sect, you would see it differently than the rest of us … sort of like this image from the Der Tzitung newspaper:

Sites like Jezebel were quick to point out the fact that Hillary Clinton was gone. But I also noted that the OTHER woman was missing, something Jezebel added later. So I found out about Audrey Tomason from the Washington Post:

“An official said she worked with the National Security Council, a White House agency closely involved with the intelligence that led to bin Laden. The official intimated that the White House generally doesn’t discuss personnel at any of the government’s covert or intelligence agencies. Tommy Vietor, a spokesman for the NSC, confirmed that she worked with the agency. When asked why she had never been identified or mentioned before, Vietor responded, ‘Well, we’ve never killed bin Laden before.’ ”

One clear rule when the White House released the images was that the photograph may not be manipulated in any way.” Apparently Der Tzitung doesn’t ever intentionally run images of women, according to the New York Daily News:

As a rule, Der Tzitung does not run images of women that could be considered “sexually suggestive,” Jewish Week writer Rabbi Jason Miller said.

Miller speculated in a column that the newspaper may have edited out Clinton because its editors “don’t like the idea of a woman with that much political power.”

He added that he considers the altered image an “act of censorship [that] is actually a violation of the Jewish legal principle of g’neivat da’at (deceit).”

The need for tolerance of religious principles is critical, particularly fringe elements who embody principles outside of the mainstream. However, this particular issue hits at something said by our own (Rabbi) Dan Cohen: “These days it seems that, at times, the real religious divide is between progressives and fundamentalists.” About this he said, “Personally I can’t wrap my head around a mindset that would ever think of doing this in the first place!”

On the one end we have progressives who accept that everyone is different and yet the same, and that it is up to all of us to welcome each other and rejoice in those differences that make us unique.  Different approaches are seen as just that, different, but not necessarily better or worse one from the next. Every religious tradition is mostly comprised of progressives – people who don’t automatically think it is their way or the highway (to hell). People who don’t immediately hate someone for going to a certain place of worship, or treat others a certain way based on certain millennium-old traditions. People who don’t relegate a certain segment of the population to second class citizen status, because of things like… sex and gender roles!

But on the other end, we have the fundamentalists – and they are also in every religion! These types want to categorize people based on certain ‘litmus tests’, allowing rights based on a checklist of race, color, sex, gender roles, sexual orientation, baseball team preference, and so on. With this approach you are either “In” or you are “Out” and THEY determine what standard is used to decide.

Progressive people can accept that fundamentalists have a right to worship and live the way they choose. The problem comes when there is a push to impose those standards on others, through forced dress codes for non-members, denial of rights and opportunities, and in extreme cases a denial of existence. Reading the comments in several articles related to this, you see posts by women who have been ignored and treated as if they didn’t exist by fundamentalists.

Changing history is never a good thing – and to be honest with all of the fundamentalist attempts to erase certain events of the last century, I would have expected this paper to be more sensitive to the issue.

Hillary Clinton and Audrey Tomason were present as the events unfolded, as pictured in the original photo. Seeing something ‘sexually suggestive’ in either women is more about the perverse mindset of the person who chose to alter the photo. If they were threatened by women in such powerful positions, again this is would be more about the perverse mindset of the person who chose to alter the photo.

Digital editing techniques are awesome, powerful and, unfortunately, have made the alteration of historic documents easier than ever. Today Der Tzitung has reminded us of the scary potential to attempt to erase people based on using misogynism as a foundation of your belief system rather than love and respect for all living creatures.

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4 replies

  1. Another point for how monotheism sucks. Believing in the tooth fairy makes as much sense, and it makes people act like assholes and validates their prejudices. There are wonderful people out there that believe in some religion, but believing in this crap should be subject to ridicule.

  2. I think you are missing the point. This isn’t about whether people believe in a god, gods, or nothing at all, much less ridiculing them for their beliefs; it’s about extremists in *any* group who push their lack of tolerance — whether it be against people of a certain race, color, weight, sex, religion, gender role, sexual orientation, or any other differentiators that people can come up with.

    Trying to deny or change history by Photoshopping a woman (or a black man or a fat man or a man wearing a turban, etc.) from a picture of powerful people in an intense situation because they don’t fit in with your idea of acceptable is wrong.


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