Republican Senator appears to have stretched the nose of his Jewish opponent

I resisted the claim, made in the Forward article below, that Republican senator David Perdue (GA) used a deliberate anti-Semitic trope to demonize his Jewish opponent in this fall’s election, Jon Ossoff, who interned as a high schooler with John Lewis. Click to read the article:

In a campaign ad on Facebook, shown below, Ossoff is juxtaposed with Chuck Schumer, another Jew, with a claim that Schumer’s spending a lot of dosh on Ossoff. The invidious part is that Ossoff’s nose appears to have been PhotoShopped to appear longer. Indeed, he looks a bit like Pinocchio in the photo!

As the Forward notes,

. . . . the Ossoff image, which was adapted from a 2017 Reuters photo of him, was also changed by having his nose lengthened and widened, even as other parts of his face stayed the same size and proportions, three graphic design experts told the Forward.

Ossoff’s nose is “the primary difference where the altered version is larger than the original,” said Maurice Meilleur, an assistant professor of graphic design at Iowa State University. Two professional graphic designers consulted by the Forward concurred with this assessment.

 

Here’s the original (left) with the ad version:

Image by Forward collage Left: A 2017 Reuters photo of Jon Ossoff. Right: A 2020 ad attacking Jon Ossoff. Three graphic designers told the Forward that the ad made Ossoff’s nose bigger while other facial features remained the same size.

 

Naturally Perdue’s campaign denies any deliberate intent; it was an accident. And that’s what I thought, too, until I saw some of the analyses, like the one below.

The Perdue campaign called the effect an accident and said they were removing the ad from the social network.

“In the graphic design process handled by an outside vendor, the photo was resized and a filter was applied, which appears to have caused an unintentional error that distorted the image,” a campaign spokesperson said in a statement. “Obviously, this was accidental, but to ensure there is absolutely no confusion, we have immediately removed the image from Facebook. Anybody who implies that this was anything other than an inadvertent error is intentionally misrepresenting Senator Perdue’s strong and consistent record of standing firmly against anti-Semitism and all forms of hate.”

The problem is that the filter appears to have been nose specific!

Image by Courtesy of Maurice Meill… The original 2017 photo of Jon Ossoff, overlaid with the 2020 black-and-white attack ad that showed a proportionally bigger nose even with other body parts the same size.

Here’s some analysis (this is what the Internet is useful for). The first tweet denies any malfeasance, but the rest suggest otherwise:

Oy, the nose was stretched!

My best working hypothesis, based on the stuff above, is that Ossoff’s nose was indeed elongated to correspond to the “big-nosed Jew” trope. It’s hard to imagine anybody doing this kind of stuff these days, but remember, he’s also juxtaposed with Schumer and money is mentioned. Ossoff isn’t buying the “accident” excuse:

Even though I’m a (secular) Jew, I really can’t get too bent out of shape about this. It’s both odious and humorous that people would resort to such an old trick. And there was “counter-speech,” Purdue’s campaign looks pretty bad, and the campaign will go on.

We already know that, of all minority groups subject to hate crimes, Jews are the ones most often targeted (on a per capita basis), at a rate over twice that of Muslims and nearly three times that of blacks.  But of course among all minorities, Jews are the ones it’s the most okay to hate, so those statistics aren’t that well known. They do suggest that there’s a considerable amount of resentment of Jews still in the air of America, often masquerading as “anti-Zionism.”

At any rate, they wouldn’t have to lengthen my nose as it’s naturally big. (There is of course some truth in the stereotype. As my nasally-endowed father used to tell me, “Jerry, if I had a nose full of nickels, I’d be a millionaire.”)

_________

h/t to several readers who sent me the article.

50 Comments

  1. Diana MacPherson
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Jeez, if you’re going make an anti-Semitic reference by altering someone’s nose in a picture, do it right. Replace the whole thing with a big honkin’ schnoz. That picture just looked more like Pinocchio.

    • AlTazim
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

      That’s what I thought: this isn’t the stereotypical “hook nose” or “big nose” of long-standing anti-Semitic tropes. They just made the tip of his nose… longer? Pinocchio is what popped to mind for me, and that it makes him look less masculine because his nose bridge is weakened by the lengthening effect.

      • merilee
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

        Looks like someone added a bit of putty to the end of his nose. Not a very professional job,

  2. Simon Hayward
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 12:18 pm | Permalink

    Pretty pathetic as an approach to campaigning. Can I be the first to say that it’s not worth getting your nose out of joint over this.

  3. JB
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Oddly, I don’t find that his enlarged nose makes him look any more Jewish, just slightly less attractive (he’s a good looking man!). It does seem obvious this was deliberate and it’s very suspicious that only his nose was tampered with.

    If his nose were enlarged AND given a hooked shape there would be no possible deniability. Though it would be comical at that point…

    I thought the GOP was supposed to be pro-Israel, pro-Jew these days?

    • Another Tom
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

      Well, a restored Israel is part of a prophecy about Jesus coming back and the apocalypse happening.

      That’s why evangelical christians can be so pro-Israel, they want the world to end. Given what is supposed to happen to anyone not part of their brand of christianity, I wouldn’t say that they are pro-Jew.

  4. eric
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    “Designed nose-lengthening” and “complete accident” aren’t the only two possibilities. There’s also a possible evolutionary explanation, which I’ll call “survival of the muckiest.” Which goes like this:

    1. The outside vendor produced a bunch of different images to use in the campaign. No human need have made the active decision to try and elongate Ossoff’s nose; by trying a bunch of different changes “scattershot,” they got at least one that did exactly that without even bothering to try.

    2. They then prepared a bunch of different campaign ad options for the Perdue organization to choose from, which included at least one of the pics with the elongated nose.

    3. The Perdue organization chose the one they thought made Ossoff look the worst. Maybe they consciously thought about long nose as a trope, or maybe they didn’t. I guess that intent matters to whether they are being active bigots or not, but the result is the same either way – “mistakes were made” in a collective, process sense, with no single individual having done something they thought was antisemitic.

    ****

    Of course, a simpler alternate explanation is the “mobster’s minion” one. The vendor intentionally produced a nose-lengthened image NOT under orders, but knowing that if they did it unasked, it would probably please the client. The client was indeed pleased and accepted it, with no words needing to be spoken about Jews or noses.

  5. Posted July 28, 2020 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    Shape all wrong. The stereotype is convex, not a concave ski nose. Looks more like Bob Hope.

    • rickflick
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

      Bob Hope was Jewish.

      • Posted July 28, 2020 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

        I did not know that. Wrong-shaped nose.

      • Posted July 28, 2020 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

        Stand-up comedian. Shoulda guessed.

      • Posted July 28, 2020 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

        Bob Hope was NOT jewish. Born Presbyterian, died RC.

        • rickflick
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

          I saw him in a list of Jewish performers. Maybe he was a Jewish orphan raised by Presbyterians.

        • jezgrove
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

          He was born in London, though!

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

        Jack Benny — Jewish
        George Burns — Jewish
        Bob Hope — Not Jewish

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

            Hope hosted the Academy Awards for, like, forever. A standing joke at these gigs was that, despite his having appeared in dozens and dozens of movies, he was never even nominated for an acting Oscar (mainly because he always just played some version of his own wisecracking stage persona). Hence, in the referenced joke, he was complaining about being “passed over” again — not saying that his family actually celebrated Pesach. 🙂

            • Posted July 28, 2020 at 4:25 pm | Permalink

              That was one of his better lines. Another was when he was dying. His wife asked where he would like to be buried. Hope said “Surprise me.”

        • rickflick
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 2:34 pm | Permalink

          OK, this site says no:

          https://jewishjournal.com/tag/bob-hope/

          I guess the Jewish Journal aught to know.
          It’s interesting that several places I’ve seen him listed as Jewish. Go figure.

        • Diana MacPherson
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 4:20 pm | Permalink

          Gargamel- not Jewish.

          • BJ
            Posted July 28, 2020 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

            The gargoyles from the Gargoyles cartoon show: probably not Jewish.

            Gilgamesh: not Jewish

            Gollum: not Jewish (hopefully, or that would be one nasty stereotype!)

            Golem: Sometimes Jewish, sometimes not, sometimes amorphous blob with no beliefs

            • Diana MacPherson
              Posted July 28, 2020 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

              I think a Jewish Gargamel would be worse than a Jewish Gollum.

              • BJ
                Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

                I think we’ll have to agree to disagree on this one. I mean, we could have a heated debate about it, but I somehow feel it wouldn’t be the most rewarding intellectual endeavor, not to mention use of our time. After all, I do have some videogames I want to play tonight 🙂

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 4:09 pm | Permalink

      These guys are so incompetent they don’t even know how to anti-Semite right.

  6. Mark R.
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    The GOP is getting very desperate; it’s not like them to cheat and lie and spread racist tropes. I kid (not about the GOP getting very desperate though).

  7. Adam M.
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 1:26 pm | Permalink

    Maybe, but it’s not clearly so. If you measure the noses in an image editor – height, width, and rectangular area – they’re basically identical. For example, at the widest point, the normal nose is about 56 pixels while the “enlarged” nose is about 57 pixels – easily identical given measurement error.

    I’d say that it’s caused by 1) an imperfect trim job that, for example, shaved off the right eyelashes and maybe a piece of the bridge of the nose – thereby actually making the nose smaller but also changing its shape – in the process of extracting the face from its original background, and 2) the “analog TV” effect that randomly distorts the shape of the image.

    I’d call this “not proven”.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

      Mebbe so, but I don’t think the ad’s allusion to the Jew from Brooklyn giving him big bucks “TO BUY GEORGIA!” can be chalked up to an analog effect.

      The surprise, I suppose, is that the ad leaves out George Soros, pictures of greenbacks, and the Magen David. Perdue must be saving those for closer to election day.

      • BJ
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:19 pm | Permalink

        Unless I’m missing something, there’s no mention of Jews or Brooklyn, so saying that the ad “[alludes] to the Jew from Brooklyn giving him big bucks ‘TO BUY GEORGIA'” seems dishonest to me. Politicians, PACs, billionaires, political parties, etc. trying to “buy” elections is a common trope, and Chuck Schumer is seen as one of the two Evil Leaders of the Democratic Party among Republicans, along with Dark Wizard of the Underworld Nancy Pelosi.

        Maybe you can make the case that tying Schumer in is some kind of very subtle antisemitic jab, but this really seems like stretching things to fit the narrative.

        By the way, I watched Saving Private Ryan again today and was still blown away by it. Even that final battle sequence still gets me. The knife fight is insanely suspenseful, harrowing, and heartbreaking, and yet so quiet toward the end, which makes it all the more intense and painful in its conclusion. I guess I’m trying to say that I find even that final act to be beautiful, agonizing, realistic, and sentimental, all at once, and that makes it great for me, while the sentimentality detracts from it somewhat for you.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted July 28, 2020 at 8:52 pm | Permalink

          Okay, that was a bit of hyperbole. But I don’t see where Perdue gets off suggesting that Schumer personally gave Ossoff $3 million to “buy” the election in Georgia. And I don’t think anyone — even in Georgia — misses that Schumer is either Jewish or from Brooklyn.

          Schumer reminds me of any number of lawyers I worked with over the years in New York: a bit of a noodge, sure, but a pleasure to try a case with — smart, competent, always prepared (and, if you worked on him for a while, somebody you could eventually share a good laugh with).

          I note that the ADL and the American Jewish Committee (among many others) have denounced the Perdue ad as anti-Semitic.

          As for SPR, you didn’t find the death of Tom Hanks scene, with him stopping the German tank in the nick of time by unloading his pistol into it, then oh-so-conveniently sticking around for a few parting words of wisdom with Matt Damon, a bit over the top?

          • BJ
            Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

            Hey, I don’t see where Perdue gets off saying that either, but politicians say things that are untrue all the damn time. As I said before, the idea that someone or some entity is trying to “buy” an election is not a new idea and very far from an idea associated solely with Jews.

            Furthermore, the picture included in Jerry’s post doesn’t actually include the original Facebook post in which the ad was first revealed. Apparently, the words “Schumer spending $3 million in Georgia for Jon Ossoff” is a sort of summary of what was contained in the post. You can see the full Facebook post here: https://atlantajewishtimes.timesofisrael.com/perdue-campaign-removes-ad-ossoff-called-anti-semitic/

            As you can see (emphasis mine), the post says, “Chuck Schumer’s super PAC is spending $3 MILLION on false attack ads against me. I need YOU to help me set the record straight. We must not let Schumer and the radical left buy Georgia’s Senate for the Democrats.” Obviously, all of that is far too much text to put in a simple campaign image, so “Schumer’s super PAC” was reduced to just Schumer, the reference to “the radical left” was cut (but can be used to further demonstrate that the ad is talking about the wider Democratic Party and the perceived politics it brings), and the idea that the Democratic Party is trying to buy the election was left in, again suggesting that Schumer is a leader of it. Even just considering the image without the Facebook post’s text, this is all normal political messaging: claiming that the perceived figurehead of the opposition party is the one pulling the strings, or using his or her name to invoke their entire party, and suggesting that opponents are trying to spend enough money to drown out the true voice of the people. They’ve been using Nancy Pelosi as a stand-in for the entire Democratic Party for about a decade! The fact that Schumer is Jewish doesn’t make the extremely common tactics and refrains used here antisemitic.

            I think the ADL is often too quick to denounce something as antisemitic, which is unfortunate because it detracts from their credibility and, as the leading organization documenting and speaking on antisemitism, that credibility is important. I’ve disagreed with the ADL’s assessment of statements, events, and the like many times over the years, and you know me well enough to know I’m pretty sensitive to antisemitism. I disagree with them again here. The first thing mentioned in their statement (included in the link above) is the manipulation of the nose. I again must contend that I can’t see any way that the change could be considered antisemitic in nature. It simply doesn’t fit the stereotype of the “Jewish nose.” There are no other “dog whistles” in the ad because, as previously noted, (1) claiming opponents are trying to spend their way to victory is very common, and (2) Schumer is seen as representing the Democratic Party, just like Nancy Pelosi when she is invoked in similar ways; heck, just like Trump when he is invoked as a stand-in for the Republicans. The change in the nose seems to be a really bad Photoshop job, likely from cropping and/or blowing up the picture and/or positioning it in the ad.

            I do agree that Senator Schumer seems like the kind of guy with whom I’d enjoy some verbal sparring, and I’ve actually attended a couple of his speeches, which I found impressive and endearing.

            And yes, that last bit in SPR is definitely over the top! No doubt about it. It detracts a bit from what came before, but what came before is so powerful and thrilling that it’s hard for that small slip-up to affect it in any significant way, at least for me. Is SPR perfect? Not at all, but it’s pretty close.

          • Ken Kukec
            Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:16 pm | Permalink

            The war-movie cliché of Tom Hanks taking a bullet to the torso, then bleeding out slowly through his uniform while he had time for heroic last acts and touching final words didn’t ruin the movie for me, but I thought it a betrayal of the opening sequence of the landing on Omaha Beach, where death came capriciously (and, I take it, realistically), as soon as the ramp to the Higgins boat dropped, some soldiers torn apart by 50 caliber bullets, others drowning helplessly, many without having gotten off so much as a single round with their own weapons.

            I’ll add that I didn’t mind the tacked on coda, with Matt Damon’s aging character visiting the Normandy cemetery. It was manipulative and sentimental, too, but it wasn’t clichéd, and it worked. I fell for it with the rest of the suckers anyway. (Hell, I get a bit choked up just writing about it now. 🙂 )

            • BJ
              Posted July 29, 2020 at 7:27 am | Permalink

              Aw, fucking hell, that last scene makes me cry every. damn. time. It’s impossible not to cry. And you’re right that it’s the perfect example of a cliched, sentimental trope that still completely fits and adds to the movie.

              It’s hard to put your finger on what makes a sentimental trope good, but I think that, in the case of this scene, it works so well because it doesn’t really seem perfunctory or even like it’s really a “manipulation” of us at all. It makes for a perfect ending, and it also makes me think about how I would feel if I owed someone my life and knew how hard they fought to preserve it.

              Most importantly, It feels earned

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:49 pm | Permalink

            Non Americans watch that film and remark, sarcastically, “oh I guess only Americans fought in WWII”.

            It’s why Greyhound was a pleasant surprise. There were other people, called the Allied Forces in the movie and the Americans weren’t saving all of them but working with them.

            • BJ
              Posted July 29, 2020 at 8:01 am | Permalink

              I would normally agree with this, but, at least in SPR, the focus is on the assault of Omaha Beach, which was both the most deadly assault and undertaken solely by American forces. It makes sense for the film to focus on the most gruesome battle because the point is clearly to depict the horrors of war, and this was the most horrific part of the D-Day operations. Including other Allied nations’ forces would have required depicting multiple operations, which would have detracted from the film’s seamless moment-to-moment composition and its overall narrative.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 29, 2020 at 10:09 am | Permalink

                But that is only the beginning of the movie. The rest of it involves wandering around looking for someone and coming across only other Americans.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted July 29, 2020 at 8:48 am | Permalink

              I agree with you, as BJ does, that the contribution of the US’s allies is generally underplayed. But, as he points out, you can’t fault Saving Private Ryan for this, since it’s a specific story about the landing at Omaha Beach and about a squad that survived the landing taking on a particular mission in France.

              FWIW, the role of the Canucks in the D-Day landings at Juno Beach was covered in the epic 1962 Daryl Zanuck production The Longest Day.

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted July 29, 2020 at 10:19 am | Permalink

                But my point is that whenever they are walking around looking for this private, they never encounter any other people except other Americans. When you see other countries portray the battles they were in, they usually show some interaction with allies. You would really think only Americans were in WWII from this movie. For example, the Canadian war movie, Passchendaele, which is about WWI and a Canadian assault and heavy losses, there are mentions and encounters with many others, especially the British, when it’s a purely Canadian story. I suspect similar with Vimy Ridge movies.

                I am so used to this with American movies, that when I saw Greyhound I was shocked they included British battleships and a Canadian corvette and that the Canadians didn’t get bombed right away yelling, “Save us America”. LOL

          • rickflick
            Posted July 28, 2020 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

            “the Holocaust was also a necessary evil.”

            Tom Cotton sticks his whole leg in his gullet.

            https://alfranken.com/read/tom-cotton-the-holocaust-a-necessary-evil?fbclid=IwAR0nlmbDXDR-G4y1ihSC7rCGbJ2TTe7XYotQspfroA9kwoUPT9BQjrW07tA

  8. Posted July 28, 2020 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Some people are black & Jewish – that must be even more difficult.

  9. Mark Joseph
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    This is a Georgia republican we’re talking about; we should all be thankful that he didn’t photoshop a yellow armband with a star on to Senator Ossoff’s (see what I did there?) picture.

    For further details, about that state party’s lunacy, see Paul Broun, who has featured on this very website at least once in the past.

    • jezgrove
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 5:57 pm | Permalink

      What’s in a name? The Jews didn’t do much better in the other Georgia, either: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_Georgia

      • BJ
        Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

        What’s interesting in reading that article you posted is that, like so many other antisemitic movements in history, the Jews and everyone else in Georgia got along completely fine until, suddenly, some people/ideology rose to power and then Jews were suddenly considered evil. Over 2,000 years of peace, and then wham.

  10. BJ
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 6:02 pm | Permalink

    This just doesn’t strike me as a likely case of antisemitism. As some others have noted, if they were trying to make his nose look “Jewish,” they didn’t. Plus, I have to imagine they know the proper stereotype (because who doesn’t?), and even a first-time Photoshop user could do the job, if that was the intent. It was either a mistake during editing or a bad job at trying to make him look less attractive. Or something else. But I find it highly doubtful that this was an antisemitic slight simply because it doesn’t in any way fit the “profile” (see what I did there? Gosh, I’m brilliant).

  11. Doug
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    “You know, you’re too stupid to even be a good bigot.”-Porky’s

    • Doug
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      This was supposed to go under Diana’s most recent comment at #5.

  12. Torbjörn Larsson
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:18 pm | Permalink

    I’m not an expert, but the photo copy is so botched that:

    1) It shouldn’t have been used.
    2) It is hard to say how it was botched.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted July 28, 2020 at 9:20 pm | Permalink

      Hard to say by the methods related in the article. What image experts do is come up with some statistics that tells you images have been manipulated.

  13. openidname
    Posted July 28, 2020 at 11:09 pm | Permalink

    I’m Jewish — for what that’s worth; I’m not claiming to speak for all Jews.

    But if it was deliberate manipulation, it was a pointless. Ossoff doesn’t look stereotypically Jewish. And even after the nose-lengthening, he’s just a good-looking young guy who’d be even better-looking if his nose was maybe a little shorter. In other words, the resulting image just doesn’t say “Jewish” to me.


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