TikTok ‘influencer’ finds six million Holocaust victims ‘k*k’ funny
Dustyn Drummer is 24 years old, and lives in Springs. When black matric pupil Neo Carolissen confronted him and asked him why he thought the Holocaust was funny, he responded, “I just find it funny. The same as when I can’t help but laugh when I see car accidents. I will support anybody who tried to do what no one else could do. Hitler tried it, he failed, because people wouldn’t let him be the best person in the whole wide world. And now I can’t stand Jewish people for not letting him finish his dream. The truth is I dislike them for what they did to him.”
When Carolissen responded that he couldn’t understand the logic, Drummer called the six million Holocaust victims a highly derogatory term. He then called Carolissen a “n*gger” and left the chat. This video has been seen at least 9 186 times. Many other Instagram users expressed their disgust at Drummer’s comments.
Another young black man, Lindo Shandu, also confronted Drummer, who apologised for the racial slur against Carolissen but not for his antisemitic comments. A recording of the conversation was shared on Twitter. “It wouldn’t be funny if 6 000 people died. Six million people died – that’s what made it funny!” Drummer said to Shandu, laughing. “Six million people dying is k*k funny.” He said it would be even funnier if more people had died.
Shandu asked him for his phone number so he could talk to him further. Drummer said, “I’m not going to drop my number because you guys are going to attack me, and you know what, I’m not a Jew who will sit there and get gas chambered to death. I will fight back.”
Shandu told the SA Jewish Report that he had confronted Drummer because, “Earlier this year, I learnt about what happened back then [the Holocaust] and it hit home because I have a Jewish friend and whenever we play rugby at different schools, they mock him. So I’ve had it up to here with people like him, and on top of that, he offended my race and was saying racial slurs.”
Drummer’s antisemitic outbursts began after a Johannesburg Jewish Grade 9 pupil joined an Instagram live group chat, and he saw her name in Hebrew on her profile. “He’s really well known on South Africa TikTok, and especially well known in the Afrikaans community,” says the Jewish teen, who asked not to be named.
“I have friends from his area. They were the ones who showed me his TikTok and Instagram [presence]. So on Friday [17 July], he did a live video and I was one of the people he allowed to join the discussion. I got disconnected, and when I came back on, people had begun fighting with him because he made a Hitler joke since he saw my name was written in Hebrew. People started joining the [live video] to defend me.
“The next day, he did a TikTok ‘live’, saying that he would block anyone who supports Jews in general or takes our side. One of his friends contacted me to ask what would happen. [Drummer] got scared, and then made an apology video. But then more people who tried to confront him were muted from the comments, and were blocked later on.”
In the apology video, Drummer said, among other things, “I was uneducated for saying that. I had no reason to say it. I honestly need to educate myself. It was ignorant. The jokes I made weren’t jokes, they were insensitive. I know you guys aren’t going to forgive me, and I can’t expect forgiveness for something that I had no right to speak of. I always tell everyone to be kind, but I couldn’t be kind to you guys, which means I’m not who I say I am. To everyone, especially what I said about the gas chambers, who had family who died, my apology.”
Drummer’s comments come soon after another Instagram influencer, Simone Kriel, made antisemitic statements on social media and refused to apologise. The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD) has since laid criminal charges against her.
However, in this case, the SAJBD has taken a different approach. “Our view is that the individual concerned genuinely didn’t realise the implications of what he was saying,” says SAJBD President Mary Kluk. “He has since sincerely apologised and expressed a desire to learn more about the issues, and the Board has been in touch with the Holocaust & Genocide Centres to assist him in this regard.
“As recently pointed out by World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder, the root cause of the problem is that the TikTok platform is becoming a dangerous breeding ground for antisemitism and often forms of racism, especially among impressionable young people. TikTok is a platform catering primarily to young audiences, and is increasingly being infiltrated and used by people sharing vicious types of hatred. This particular incident was reported to the SAJBD by a horrified 15-year-old in our community.”
Milton Shain, emeritus professor of history at the University of Cape Town and an antisemitism expert, says, “It’s paradoxical that just as we are waking up to ‘Black Lives Matter’ and developing a historical sense of justifiable hurt on the part of black people worldwide, historical sensitivity on the part of Jews is pushed aside. Even the Holocaust has become a joke for the likes of Dustyn Drummer. I wonder if slavery is also a joke to him. The bottom line is that Jewish anguish cannot be understood because Jews are perceived – often incorrectly – to be ‘top dogs’.”
While it’s alarming that two South African ‘influencers’ in their twenties are spouting hatred for Jews and a love of Hitler online, this kind of antisemitism isn’t new. Tali Nates, the director of the Johannesburg Holocaust & Genocide Centre, believes that “Antisemitism, ‘othering’, xenophobia, and racism were always here, and are possibly more so now as people look for scapegoats in a very difficult global situation with the pandemic and economic challenges we face. These views are also more easily heard because of social media, WhatsApp groups, and more.
“Institutions such as the three Holocaust & Genocide Centres in Cape Town, Durban, and Johannesburg are even more important now in our mission to educate about the Holocaust, genocide and human rights in South Africa,” Nates says. “Of course, we can never educate every single person in the country, and some will choose to quote from conspiracy theories or hate-filled ideology. However, we must and should continue, and invite every single person to learn, discuss, and draw lessons for humanity from the histories of the Holocaust and genocide.”