Say what you will about Gina Carano, she’s a fighter.
The ousted “Mandalorian” actor, who began her career in mixed martial arts before pivoting to drama (with mixed results) made this point clear on Sunday in a YouTube interview with right-wing pundit Ben Shapiro, her first since being fired for invoking the Holocaust in a social media post.
“I fought in the ring, and I do have hot blood,” said Carano. “But it’s usually hot blood when it deals with people being bullied.”
Carano made this comment around 30 minutes into the interview (directly after a Helix mattress ad) in a segment devoted to her controversial social media post, which many interpreted as likening the treatment of conservatives by their neighbors to that to Jews during the Holocaust. Carano insisted that the post had been misinterpreted and tearfully emphasized that she had been “inspired by, like, the gentle spirit of the Jewish people going through that time.”
Oh, Gina. This is not the way.
While Carano appeared sincere in her contrition for invoking the Shoah in a flip manner, and said she had “grown through the experience,” she actually stumbled onto an offensive misconception with ugly underpinnings.
“The gentle spirit” of Jews in the Holocaust is not the compliment she thinks it is — nor is it accurate.
Jews resisted in ways large and small throughout the Holocaust. They observed holidays in secret in the camps and preserved their history under ghetto floorboards — under fear of death in each case. They killed guards at Sobibor and Auschwitz. They had an uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto and at Treblinka. They took to the woods of Belarus with a partisan army and fought in the Resistance, saving women and children (in “Star Wars” terms, they were the Rebels).
The notion that Jews were docile victims who went quietly to their deaths is a harmful trope, and coming from someone who values her status as a fighter, feels more than mildly patronizing, with Carano stopping just short of saying she would have fought for helpless Jews against Nazi “bullies” had she been around back then.
Not helping Carano’s case was the lone, vague example she gave of the “gentle” Jewish spirit. She claimed to be “inspired” by footage of an elderly survivor forgiving an “old Nazi man” at his trial. Whether she meant to or not, Carano positioned her own combative response to oppression as at odds with how Jews have handled their own.
Tellingly, Shapiro did not push back on Carano’s idea of the “gentle,” long suffering Jew. In fact, he reacted immediately to her ouster from Lucasfilm by giving her an opportunity to develop a film with Daily Wire’s production company.
There’s no word yet on what the project might focus on, but chances are it won’t be a Hannah Szenes biopic. Given Carano’s spotty record on history, that’s probably for the best.
PJ Grisar is the Forward’s culture reporter. He can be reached at Grisar@Forward.com.
Hey, Gina Carano. The ‘gentle’ Jews were fighters too.