Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The Sad Case of Adolph Hitler Campbell

There are people who are evil, and there are people who are stupid, and there are people who just make you go 'huh'? And then there are the parents of young Adolph Hitler Campbell of New Jersey, aged 3, who manage to combine all three categories.

Little Adolph is in the news this week because a Shoprite in New Jersey refused to make him a birthday cake. They refused because the parents wanted the kid's entire name on the cake, and apparently Shoprite does not force its cake decorators to write "Happy Birthday Adolph Hitler Campbell" on cakes if they don't want to, and they don't want to. The parents should have figured this out already, because apparently they went through the same thing last winter when little Adolph turned two.

Forthwith is the article from lehighvalleylive.com, detailing the situation, with commentary by me. This is for no particular reason, except that I find this story remarkably bizarre, and, well, sometimes you just gotta comment.

Holland Township man names son after Adolf Hitler
Sunday, December 14,
The Express-Times
HOLLAND TWP. In a living room decorated with war books, German combat knives and swastikas, a 2-year-old boy, blond and blue-eyed, played with a plastic dinner set.

The boy, asked his name, put down a tiny plate and ran behind his father's leg. He flashed a shy smile but wouldn't answer. Heath Campbell, 35, the boy's father, encouraged him.

"Say Adolf," said Campbell, a Holocaust denier who has three children named for Nazism.

Again, the boy wouldn't answer. It wasn't the first time the name caused hesitation.

Adolf Hitler Campbell -- it's indeed the name on his birth certificate -- turns 3 today, and the Campbell family believes the boy has been mistreated. A local supermarket refused to make a birthday cake with "Adolf Hitler" on it.

Please note that they believe that it's the supermarket that is mistreating their child.

The ShopRite in Greenwich Township has also refused to make a cake bearing the
name of Campbell's daughter, JoyceLynn Aryan Nation Campbell, who turns 2 in

Honszlynn Hinler Jeannie Campbell, a girl named for Schutzstaffel head Heinrich Himmler, turns 1 in April.

Now, the girls, I think, are going to have an easier time of it. JoyceLynn Campbell? Jeannie Campbell? Perfectly nice names. (Also, since these people, besides being evil and weird cannot SPELL, "Hinler" doesn't actually mean anything.) The only solution I can think of for little Adolph, besides changing his name to "Henry" is to go by "Dolph" and pretend his parents were mad about Lundgren.

"ShopRite can't even make a cake for a 3-year-old," said Deborah Campbell, 25,
who is Heath's wife of three years and the mother of the children. "That's sad."

Yes. ShopRite's refusal to make the cake is the sad part. (Someone did point out on the CakeWrecks blog that this child is being doubly punished--he has awful parents and no birthday cake.)

A director for the Anti-Defamation League in Philadelphia applauded the
supermarket's decision. An Allentown psychologist said the names would cause
problems for the children later in life.

Karen Meleta, a ShopRite spokeswoman, said the grocer tries to meet
customer requests but rejects those deemed inappropriate. "We believe the
request to inscribe a birthday wish to Adolf Hitler is inappropriate," she said.

The grocer offered to make a cake with enough room for the Campbells to
write their own inscription. But the Campbells refused, saying they would have a
cake made at the Wal-Mart in Lower Nazareth Township. The Campbells say Wal-Mart made cakes for Adolf's first two birthdays.

A spokeswoman for Wal-Mart said the store won't put anything illegal or profane on a cake but thinks it's important to respect the views of customers and employees.

"Our No. 1 priority in decorating cakes is to serve the customer to the best of our ability," Anna Taylor, the spokeswoman, said from Bentonville, Ark.

Since this is the company whose customers trampled an employee to death a couple of weeks ago, I would say YES, WalMart does seem to have a committment to going that extra mile for the customer.

If the Campbells have a legal case over the refusal, it would be that the family was denied service because of race, ethnicity or religion, said Shannon Powers, of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, a state agency that enforces anti-discrimination laws.

The Campbells, she said, would have to prove ShopRite didn't make a reasonable attempt to provide service it provides others. She said the offer to make a cake with room for an inscription would probably count as a reasonable attempt.

"It sounds like they (the supermarket) don't want to offend other patrons or do something offensive to their own sensibilities. If that's the motivation, that's totally different from discrimination," Powers said.

The Campbells have swastikas in each room of their home, the rented half of a one-story duplex just outside Milford, a borough in Hunterdon County. They say they aren't racists but believe races shouldn't mix.

We're not surprised, are we?

The Campbells said they wanted their children to have unique names and didn't expect the names to cause problems. Despite the cake refusal, the Campbells said they don't expect the names to cause problems later, such as when the children start school.

"I just figured that they're just names," Deborah Campbell said. "They're just kids. They're not going to hurt anybody."

Heath Campbell said some people like the names but others are shocked to hear them. "They say, 'He (Hitler) killed all those people.' I say, 'You're living in the wrong decade. That Hitler's gone,'" he said.

"They're just names, you know," he said. "Yeah, they (Nazis) were bad people back then. But my kids are little. They're not going to grow up like that."

"Other kids get their cake. I get a hard time," he said. "It's not fair to my children.

"How can a name be offensive?" he asked.

This is what I find fascinating about these people--that they seem to want to project the idea that they just sort of accidentally called their kids Adolph Hitler, Aryan Nation, and tried to name their daughter after Himmler but failed--and that other people are maliciously acting as though there is significance to these fairly aggressively anti-social acts.

There's basically two reasons to name your child "Adolph Hitler". One is that you deeply admire Hitler, and the other is that you really want to piss people off, and don't care if your child suffers in the process. These folks do not appear to be willing to cop to either.

I could, in a vague, abstract way, get it if they were simply unrepentant Nazis, but they don't quite seem to be able to get there. Which is a pretty formidable disconnect for the parents of a small boy called Hitler.

Robert M. Gordon, a clinical psychologist in Allentown, said the names would hurt the children.

"Certainly society is going to be hostile towards those kids, especially when they go to school," Gordon said.

Gordon, that's a Jewish name, isn't it? A psychologist, huh?

More than that, he said, the children would be harmed by their parents' views.

"By the time they get to school, they will already have been damaged," Gordon said. "Any parent that would impose such horrific names on their children is mentally ill, and they would be affecting their children from the day they were born. Only a crazy person would do that."

The problems the children might encounter in school, he said, "would be icing on the cake."

So to speak.

Barry Morrison, a director at the Philadelphia office of the Anti-Defamation League, which works to stop anti-Semitism and bigotry, said the organization had never heard of children named for Hitler, Himmler or Aryan nations.

Betcha he was OK with that, too. Although I have to say that neo-Nazis do seem to choose weird names for their children--there was a singing pair of white supremacist girls in the papers a while back called Lynx and Lamb. Odd, that these are the same people who sneer at African-American parents for choosing euphonious names with original spellings for their children. Seriously. De'Andre or "Adolph Hitler"--whose resume gets to stay in the stack?

He found the names offensive and commended ShopRite's decision.

The Campbells, Morrison said, "might as well put a sign around their (the children's) neck that says bigot, racist, hatemonger. What's the difference? Why not call the kid Peace or Tranquility or Hope or Acceptance?

"It's doing them (the children) a tremendous disservice, and it's cruel that parents would place these names on children," he said. "It's a mark upon them. It sets them apart for ridicule, derision, attacks.

"The children at this age might not have an understanding of these names. But when they grow up, hopefully, they would want to distance themselves from them," he said. "If they come to identify with the ideology of Hitler, Himmler and the Aryan nations, their parents are launching them on a life of hatred."

The Campbell home is kept neat aside from scattered toys and other evidence three children live there. It's small, but it's what the Campbells can afford.

Disabilities, the couple says, have left both out of work: Heath Campbell can't landscape or pump gas because he has emphysema, and Deborah can't waitress because she has a bad back. They live on Social Security payments.

In the foyer, Heath Campbell, who said he has German ancestry and a relative who fought for the SS, took off boots he said were worn by a Nazi soldier named Daniel.

OK, so, let me see, the Nazis were bad people 'back then', but you're wearing their BOOTS? Dude. Lots of people have German ancestry in New Jersey. You'd be amazed at the number who do not own any footwear worn by Nazis. Who would, in fact, be grossed out at the thought of wearing footwear worn by Nazis. Like, ick. Nazi cooties on your feet.

He laid them next to a skull with a swastika on its forehead, the first of
dozens of swastikas seen by the Campbells' rare guests.

There are swastikas on walls, on jackets, on the freezer and on a pillow.
The family car had swastikas, Heath Campbell said, until New Jersey's Department
of Children and Families told him they could endanger the children.

The swastikas, Heath Campbell said, are symbols of peace and balance.
He considers them art.

"It doesn't mean hatred to me," he said. Deborah Campbell said a
swastika "doesn't really have a meaning. It's just a symbol."

Peace. Balance. Maybe they could have called the kids Peace and Balance. Symbols of peace and balance are frequently inscribed on skulls.

Heath Campbell said he doesn't want to force his views on his children, in
part because he had views forced on him. He said he also teaches them

Abusive guardians, Heath Campbell said, used Bible verses to teach him
to distrust blacks. If he questioned the guardians, he said, he was hit. He
acknowledged he couldn't challenge the guardians' views.

He said Adolf Hitler, Aryan Nation and Hinler would be able to make
their own decisions about race.

So, basically, this is just your average pair of young Americans raising three children. They wanted to give them unique names, and they happen to have swastikas all over their house, and they believe in nonviolence. Also, they believe Nazis are bad, but collect their stuff, and name their children after them. And now ShopRite is persecuting their child and denying him cake.

It hardly seems fair, does it?


Anonymous said...

Can you say 'crazy'? I think you can. ^_~

Nella said...

They seem to have had a baby a year since getting married - wonder if they'll stop when they run out of Nazi names, or if they'll start on fascists of other stripes after a while?

BBJ said...

Goebbelina Lynn Campbell?
Swastika Campbell?
Mein Kampf Campbell?
Deutschland Uber Alles Campbell?

I think they could keep going for a while.