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Disney’s World

Nearly 50 years after Walt Disney’s death, biographers and fans still debate if he was an anti-Semite. A better question might be why we still care.

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(Tablet Magazine)

Walt Disney was not a controversial figure during his lifetime. But after his death in 1966, historians began putting forth a variety of disquieting revelations about him: The animator and studio chief had testified before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, it turned out, and he may have been an FBI informant. He was allegedly interested in cryogenics. And he was reportedly prone to making anti-Semitic remarks. But subsequent biographers disagreed, sparking a long battle over Disney’s legacy.

Eric Molinsky worked in the animation industry, and has long wondered not only if the claims of Disney’s anti-Semitism are true but also why they remain a point of fascination and ridicule among cartoonists and others nearly a half-century after his death. For this week’s Vox Tablet, Molinsky, now a radio producer, spoke to an animation historian, a Disney-obsessed playwright, and a fairy-tale scholar in an effort to understand if Disney the man, or Disney’s world view, was truly bad for the Jews. [Running time: 10:37.] 

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Rob Braun says:

What about the Sherman brothers? Apparently they met with him every Friday at the end of the day and they’d serenade him with his favorite Disney/Sherman brothers tunes. How anti-Semitic could he have been? They were jut as instrumental to the success of Disney as, well, Walt Disney.

Yale Gancherov says:

allegedly, the backstory includes Disney’s history of abuse by major studio execs, mostly Jews, before he went solo with his own company and achieved financial independence from the existing Hollywood system.

One of the more popular Mouseketters in
the original TV Mickey Mouse Club was Doreen Tracey whose father was Jewish, Doreen lived for a while with her Uncle
Ben Blue who was Jewish. Disney must have known this and it didn’t seem to bother him. At least two other Mouseketeers were also Jewish.

It is conceivable that “Uncle Walt” was such a thing, one thing he was not was an artist/entertainer/animator of any genuine true social value. Disney takes timeless folk tales, literature, and art from various cultures and crafts them over into vacuous, inane, and simply banal crap with mindless Mickey Mouse merchandising tied in. I can easily see Disney as an uneasy racist so it is hardly a stretch to see him and imagine him in the light of an anti-semite. Who but a simple boob or an idiot would want to be a glib and idiotic Mouseketeer though is perhaps the more relevant question in this modern age as the 2000s open up and Tinkerbelle fades off into “The Song of the South.”

Walt Disney was a beautiful genius who not only embraced and inspired my Jewish father and uncle, the Sherman Brothers, but had many other Jewish employees and had dined every month with his dear friends, Mr. and Mrs. Sam Goldwyn. People can read anything into anything and a lovely, giving man like Walt Disney is, sadly, an easy target.

From D.W. Griffiths’ “Birth of a Nation” on, virtually every classic filmmaker and studio head of that era put out some product that, by today’s standards, would now seem sexist or racist or in bad taste. I’m 54, a child of the 1950′s, and I’ve seen many, many radical and, yes, positive changes in my own lifetime in this regard. To take any of his work out that context and single out and vilify Mr. Disney is silly and really wrong.

Two of his favorites of my Dad and Uncle’s songs were “Feed the Birds” which is about charity and compassion and “It’s a Small World” — a message of peace for all the children in the world — regardless of race, color or creed or gender. Mr. Disney inspired these messages and made sure the whole world heard them loud and clear. They are still heard all the time, in theaters, on television, on radios and in theme parks all over the world. How many others have had such reach and effect.

Some people, I suppose, just aren’t listening. Walt Disney was a great, great man and not at all deserving of this nonsense.

M. Burgh says:

To Jeffery C. Sherman – Love you father’s and uncle’s work. To everybody else, watch the doc about the amazing Sherman Brothers and judge for yourself No true anti-semite would spend so much time with Jewish creators, or give them such respect, much more than say, the Warner Bros or Harry Cohn would have.

He was slandered by leftists because he testified for HUAC. End of story. The man was not an anti-semite. The slander itself is proof that the left has descended into mindless name-calling.

Moishe Pippick says:

Jason Jay Murphy – don’t put this slander on the political left. The right plays the same game when it suits them too. When Disney’s great-niece came out in favor of boycotts and sanctions on Israel, the right attacked her and her uncle as anti-semites as in this insane column (warning – some of the comments are offensive): http://www.debbieschlussel.com/51787/full-circle-hitler-fan-walt-disneys-descendant-joins-anti-israel-boycott/

2000

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Disney’s World

Nearly 50 years after Walt Disney’s death, biographers and fans still debate if he was an anti-Semite. A better question might be why we still care.

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