Monday was the last day of the ten-day Burning Man Festival held in the Nevada Desert. What began over 30 years ago as a small campfire gathering of California artists evolved into a massive annual festival bringing almost 70,000 people to the middle of the desert in Nevada. Billed as a cultural gathering, the festival attracts artists and celebrities, culminating in the eponymous ceremony in which a large wooden effigy of a man is burned. This ceremony referred to by Druids as the ‘wicker man’ is almost universal amongst pagan cults and evolved as a replacement for human sacrifice.
Touted as a secular event, many of Burning Man’s major elements are rooted in idolatry. Regular Burning Man installments are a Temple to the Hindu goddess Shiva and a 70-foot long seven-headed red metal dragon on wheels. The dragon, named for the ancient Egyptian god Abraxas, was clearly intended to reference Satan as described in the Christian Book of Revelations. The massive camp is set up to form a massive pentagram in the desert.
This year features many different mini-camps including one titled “The 7 Sins Lounge” which has appeared for 18 consecutive years. Several of the camps are dedicated specifically to promiscuous and public sexuality including an “Orgy Dome.” This aspect of the festival was emphasized when the Australian celebrity disc jockey Flume performed a sex act on stage in front of the entire crowd.
The display, a diorama made of hundreds of naked Barbie dolls marching into two kitchen ovens with some crucified on pink crosses, was presented by the “Barbie Death Camp and Wine Bistro”, regulars at the festival. The display came under a sign that said, “The Mattel Co. and Auschwitz Inc., Purveyors of fine lampshades and soap products since 1939 arbeit macht plastik frei,” a reference to “Arbeit macht frei” the message over the Auschwitz gate meaning “work makes you free.”
It should be noted that Mattel Corporation, the company that produces the Barbie doll, was not connected to the display in any way.
The artist, 65-year0-old James Jacoby, is reportedly Jewish and a retired financial manager living in California. He told J Weekly that he has been presenting the same display for years and this is the first time there were complaints. A photo on the internet from 2009 seems to confirm this.
The display was so offensive that the Anti-Defamation League is currently investigating
We have received a number of complaints,” the Anti-Defamation League’s San Francisco regional director, Seth Brysk, told JTA.
“Certainly individuals have a right to free expression,” Brysk said. “But using that free expression to trivialize the Holocaust for the sake of political, social or artistic ends is still deeply offensive and inappropriate. And we would ask people not to do so. It tarnishes the memories of those who died, including the 6 million Jews and 5 million others,” Brysk said. “Particularly in the current environment, where we have a confluence of survivors no longer around to tell their stories, and increased extremism and hatred, we think it’s more important than ever to preserve and respect the memory of the Holocaust.”
It seems that even by Burning Man’s permissive standards the display was offensive. Jacoby reported that a fight ensued at the display as attendees were leaving the festival. Jacoby was also called a “White Nazi supremacist” and a “Trump supporter”, apparently intended as an insult.