Badpuppy Gay Today

Monday, 17 February, 1997


Gay Jewish Activist Says McDonald's Defames the Dead

by Corrine Hicks

  American Bar Association Leaders Say "Unfair"


According to Shalom International, a Miami Beach-based anti-Nazi, anti-racist group, McDonald's' golden arches have been tastelessly erected only a few hundred feet from the parking lot which serves visitors to Dachau, the famed Nazi death camp where both Jews and gay men perished. Bob Kunst, Anita Bryant's admitted one-time gay activist nightmare, is up in arms.

Kunst, Shalom's president, best known in past decades for his headline-grabbing gay and AIDS projects, is leading the charge against the famous chain. During a period wherein financial reports indicate sluggish sales at the nation's largest fast-food restaurant and while chief executives have changed thrones because of McDonald's losses to Burger King and Wendy's, Kunst says the chain seems unprepared for continuing storms of negative publicity that Shalom International and the Jewish Defense League have aroused against it.

"They want to exploit the death camp," Kunst says of the huge burger business, "Its a tourist attraction to them."

Kunst tells of visiting the death camp recently while McDonald's wrappers and plastic cups blew about the memorial grounds. "Not only Jews are upset," he says, "but many other people who will not buy into McDonald's crappy politics any longer or its burgers and fries....Would you put up a McDonald's at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier?"

Kunst, a veteran social justice demonstrator, recently took pickets to McDonald's regional headquarters in South Florida's Boca Center. His immediate purpose, he says, is to shut down the McDonald's in question. During several visits to Dachau he has seen flags flying above the restaurant, clearly visible as he walked the death camp grounds. "It sickened me," he says, "Who else but a Nazi could have a McDonald's-style appetite after touring a death camp?"

"McDonald's crass commercialism," according to Kunst, has been at the top of Shalom International's agenda since May, 1995. "The most important thing," he believes, "is to reach customers who might go to McDonald's and get them to switch their fast-food habits. This is the only kind of tough talk that McDonald's understands."

Kunst feels there should be no such commercialism allowed next door to a memorial death camp like Dachau. "People should have the opportunity to go and to understand the full import of what went on there. This is not just a message to McDonald's --it's a message to every American corporation."

McDonald's denies its Dachau site is as close to the camp as Kunst contends, but this denial infuriates the feisty activist. "McDonald's has crossed the line," he insists, " because to trivialize and commercialize the Holocaust is an outrage."

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