Here’s an old joke from the Soviet era:
Rumor in Moscow has it that the grocery store has cans of meat. Despite the fact that it’s a very cold day, a long, long line instantly forms outside the store. After a couple of hours, a Communist official comes out of the store and announces, “Supplies are not as large as we first believed. All Jews must leave the line.” With empty bags and empty stomachs, the Jews quietly depart. Another couple of hours go by, and the same official emerges from the store, this time stating, “Supplies are even smaller than we thought. All non-Party members must leave the line.” The chilled, hungry non-party members wander off. Another two cold hours go by, and the official comes out for the last time: “Sorry, we have no supplies. Everyone must go home.” And as the Communist Party members wander off into the frigid afternoon, one can be heard murmuring to the other, “Those damn Jews! They get all the luck.”
Why am I telling this hoary old joke? Because the UN announced that it is going to make a major push for circumcision as a way to curtail the spread of AIDS. Jews, of course, have been circumcising their baby boys for more than 5,000 years. And somehow, somewhere, some little person is going to make the connection that the Jews, by doing something unpleasant that many people don’t want to do, lucked into something!
UPDATE: With perfect timing, after recycling that old Soviet joke, I read today in NRO that there is a whole movie coming out about the anti-Communist humor in the Soviet Union that even the Communists could not suppress:
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But regarding an ideology with deadly seriousness doesn’t mean that it can’t also be laughed at. Director/co-writer Ben Lewis’s new documentary Hammer & Tickle, which was co-produced by the Moving Picture Institute, chronicles the long history of jokes about Communism, in which those who lived under Communist oppressors were — when they managed to sneak it past the authorities — able to wring some humor out of the system that surrounded them. Communism’s all-encompassing terror, the film suggests, may even have given its humor a boost. As one of the film’s subjects wryly states, “The worse the government, the better the jokes.”
The documentary recounts a number of the many, many jokes that spread, often secretly, throughout the communist citizenry during the long tenure of Soviet Communism and its various offshoots. But Hammer & Tickle isn’t merely a joke book on film. It’s a brisk, concise lesson in the grim history of Soviet Communism told through a series of joke-centered anecdotes.
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