A restaurant in Tiverton, Rhode Island has come under intense scrutiny after posting what can be seen as an anti-Semitic meme on Friday when it addressed the current heat wave.
The Atlantic Sports Bar and Restaurant, located at 70 Shove Street in Tiverton, posted a meme on the restaurant’s Facebook page shortly after 5 p.m. Friday that featured a photo of Anne Frank with the caption “It’s hotter than ‘an oven over there… and I should know!’
The post’s caption read “#ohboy,” which seemed to indicate the poster knew it would draw criticism.
Frank, a 15-year-old Jewish girl, died during the Holocaust. She and her family were captured by the Nazis after living in hiding for 761 days and sent to a concentration camp. His diary has become one of the most moving works published on the subject of the Holocaust.
Frank died in a concentration camp, presumably of typhus. The bodies of the millions of Jews killed in the camps were cremated in giant ovens.
WBSM talk show host Jessica Machado, who has children of Jewish descent, saw the post on Facebook and called the restaurant to demand an explanation. She recounted what happened on Saturday’s edition of The Jessica Machado Show.
“I picked up the phone and called, and said I wanted to talk to someone about a Facebook post,” Machado said. “The girl who answered said, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about, what position?’ I explained it and she said she didn’t understand it, and I said, ‘OK, you posted it?’ and she said no. So I asked if I could speak to the person who did it and she hung up on me.
Machado called again.
“I then spoke with the owner, who was equally annoyed with me,” Machado said. “He doubled over and said he just googled it, he thought it was funny, and they were very, very busy and it was really hot there, and they didn’t didn’t have time to respond to my concerns or questions.. He told me not to call them back and then, click, they hung up.
The meme was later deleted from Atlantic’s Facebook page. It’s unclear whether restaurant staff deleted the post or if it was removed by Facebook, which has a policy against hate speech and recently began deleting posts that deny the Holocaust.
WBSM called Atlantic on Saturday afternoon and asked to speak to the owner. We were told he was not there and the best way to contact him was by email. We sent an email requesting information about the meme and the decision to both publish and remove it. Having received no response, we sent another email on Sunday afternoon.
As of this writing, both emails have gone unanswered. We will update this story with any response from Atlantic ownership if we receive one.
Atlantic Sports Bar and Restaurant has a rating of 4.4 out of 5 on its Facebook page with 343 reviews. A few people posted negative reviews after Friday’s incident, and one commenter attempted to provide some insight. A person whose Facebook name is Nicole Beth said she knew the owners of the Atlantic and that “the ‘joke’ was definitely in poor taste” but that “this characterization (of them) as bigoted or anti-Semitic is incredibly unfair”.
“Let me tell you for a moment about these incredibly kind, tolerant and hardworking people. They fly Pride flags outside their establishment all year round, they have gender neutral bathrooms advertised long before this don’t be trendy. They pride themselves on giving drug addicts and ex-criminals a second chance, to the point of actively seeking them out in their hiring process,” she wrote. “They regularly donate food and time to community organizations and never seek a single second of social media praise or attention to do so.During COVID they were here hemorrhaging money to keep people employed while they distributed frozen food and toilet paper to people in need.
“Is the owner a little rough around the edges? Of course,” she continued. “But without a doubt, they are good, kind, loving people who don’t have anti-Semitic bones in their bodies, and it’s crazy that a meme that was posted and deleted in an hour could start a campaign to harm their business. Let’s just acknowledge that we’ve all made stupid decisions, show some grace, and relax.
Commenter Jaiden Leary was concerned, however, that the owners had not fixed the issue even after deleting the post.
“I think a ‘Holocaust joke’ in any capacity is anti-Semitic,” Leary wrote. “Making a joke about the Holocaust is inherently anti-Semitic, regardless of whether someone thinks it’s just light-hearted, just a meme, etc. and I think it’s important to hold people accountable for ‘badly thought-out’ jokes “like this one because it really is much deeper than that.
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