Register Monday | October 18 | 2021
Strong Arm Illustration by John Perlock.

Strong Arm

If frat bros were fascists, they might have invented the quenelle, an inverted Nazi salute that's gone viral among disaffected French youth.

TO INTRODUCE 2014 to bad airs and riot police, French bros gave us the Quenelle, one of the first spontaneous memes of the year: a ticklish, inverted after-image of the raised-arm salute originally promoted in 1933 by the Reich Interior Minister for all German public employees. The gesture is a pastiche that lowers the heiling arm downward by 90 degrees while bringing the spare hand up to the offending shoulder—get it? For now it's managed to both evade France’s strict hate laws and titillate anyone itching for Nazi irony. And while I’d imagine that “anyone” to be a fringe few, it seems more like “everyone” in France: newscasters, soldiers, hipsters, businessmen, beekeepers, surgeons, wedding parties, politicians, Santa Clauses and your common species of random Euro schmuck in his “sleek,” oil-spill-tinted sunglasses and khaki cargos—all making the quenelle at home, at work, in front of synagogues ...

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