by Allison Kaplan Sommer
What the hell is a ‘quenelle’? Why everyone is searching Google for an anti-Semitic salute
The gesture described as an upside-down Heil Hitler sign is causing trouble for everyone from Tony Parker to Barack Obama.
Diuedonne trademarked the Quenelle! You can’t make this stuff up!
t’s a word that most of us had never heard until this week. Quenelle: a word that sounds like it could be a sophisticated French pastry or obscure breed of exotic bird, or perhaps the latest bizarre celebrity name for a child.
On Monday, it was the third-most-searched-for term on Google.
As those who did not spend their winter holidays unplugged and are up on the latest online scandals know by now, a quenelle is a gesture that is getting a whole lot of famous people into a lot of trouble. At first glance, it looked innocent enough, and it was hard to see what all the fuss was about. To American eyes, it looks like someone with bad aim is trying to strike the pose of the pledge of allegiance with one hand, while the other arm is somehow paralyzed.
The more we learn about Dieudonne, the comedian who started it all increasingly sounds like a really fun guy. Even as the quenelle-on-the-soccer-field swirled across the globe, he was getting into yet more hot water, with news breaking that he may be tried for racial incitement for the eighth time with the opening of a criminal investigation regarding possible suspicion of incitement to racial hatred after he made a remark hinting it was a shame that a Jewish journalist doing a story on him didn’t end up in a gas chamber.
If that’s not bad enough, it looks like Dieudonne is hoping to make a profit off all this publicity. The TV station France 24 tells us that he has “been working on launching a range of quenelle-related merchandise and in October 2013 his wife registered the quenelle as a trademark with the French National Industrial Property Institute.”
T-shirts? Coffee mugs? Whether or not racism turns a profit, it seems that in the near future, nobody will have to Google the word anymore.