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Jewish Journal

Reclaiming the Hitler mustache

by Brad A. Greenberg

February 17, 2008 | 9:39 pm

I get Vanity Fair, but I guess I missed this article in November. Like this post last month, it revolves around Rich Cohen. But also like this piece, it adds a spice of Hitler.

The Toothbrush mustache is the most powerful configuration of facial hair the world has ever known. It overpowers whoever touches it. By merely doodling a Toothbrush mustache on a poster, you make a political statement. Actually wearing a Hitler mustache, as I planned to do—well, that is like yelling racial epithets in a crowded subway. Wasn’t Hitler amazing? Whatever he touched turned to ice. His life ended the long and fabled career of the name Adolf, which had included the stories of Adolph Zukor, Adolphe Menjou, Adolph Ochs, and Adolph Coors. Never again will a pregnant mother innocently consider the name for her son, or imagine shouting it across a teeming playground. As for the Toothbrush mustache, it did not only die with the Führer—it was embalmed with him. It was his essence, and so it has been relegated to the black book of history.

This is the part where I am supposed to explain just why I decided to write this story now. I might talk about the re-emergence of facial hair on the world stage, or the rise of the “new anti-Semitism,” or Holocaust denial in Iran, but, the fact is, my interest in the Hitler mustache never started and never ends. It is always. If you’re a Jew, the Hitler mustache exists in the eternal present. I grew it for the same reason Richard Pryor said the word “n——-.” I wanted to defuse it. I wanted to own it. I wanted to reclaim it for America and for the Jews. My name is Rich Cohen, and I wear a Hitler mustache.

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