Should we ban birthday cakes celebrating terrorism or Nazism?

Being super-skinny, as all professional fashionistas tend to be, the Palestinian-American supermodel Bella Hadid looks as if she could do with a good feed now and then. Perhaps this explains her current fondness for the Palestinian terror-group Hamas (or “Ham@s”, as she calls them, with typical cr@ssness), whom Bella praised in mid-June for kindly distributing free birthday cakes to their current captive Israeli hostages on her social media feeds:  

Is this really true? Well, sort of, but only in the same sense that Lucrezia Borgia gave her victims lashings of free wine. The freed hostage in question, Almog Meir Jan, said his Hamas jailers did indeed bake him a cake for his birthday: but only as a “cynical” gesture, to taunt him. When rescued by Israeli troops, Jan was, like other prisoners, actually suffering from severe malnutrition.

Bella Hadid often looks as if she is suffering from severe malnutrition herself, but many critics felt the truly undernourished portion of her body was her brain. Outraged pro-Israeli social media users went online themselvesto counter Hadid’s inane propaganda, coining the new term “cakewashing”, and pointing out how, even if Hamas really had given their captive a nice triple-tier jam-filled sponge-cake with strawberries on top and sang him “Happy Birthday”, it hardly excused their relentless prior torture of the poor man.

Fufu goes FUBAR

Oddly, this was not the only cake-related Hamas controversy to hit the media of late. In May, a Sydney-based bakery with the awkward name “Oven Bakery by Fufu” caused outrage by not only baking a batch of cakes decorated with Palestinian flags and images of the Hamas spokesman Abu Abaid for the birthday of a lucky local four-year-old boy named Omar, but then went on to proudly share photographs of the treats in question on their Instagram feed for advertising purposes! Worse, the bakery also posted an image of young, fancy-dress-loving Omar enjoying his party alongside his cakes … done up as a keffiyeh-wearing Hamas terrorist.

I can remember sometimes dressing up for my own birthday parties whilst still a toddler, too – but as Spiderman, not Yasser Arafat. The bakery subsequently deleted their post, but, as Hamas are listed as a proscribed terror-organisation in the country, the Australian Federal Police are currently investigating the alleged occurrence. But should they be?

Defenders of the bakery could perhaps raise the question of free speech here, and plead that, in a free society, free persons should really be free to ask bakers to decorate their private cakes however they please, even extremely offensively. For example, an opposing controversy arose earlier this year in January, when a Jewish-American kosher bakery named Zadies over in New Jersey likewise agreed to bake customers a cake decorated with the insignia of the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) before boasting about it online.

My sympathies tend to lie with Israel in the current geopolitical situation, but there is no doubt some people out there disagree, and sincerely hold the IDF of being guilty of genocide, leading to a sudden flood of abuse and one-star reviews from trolls on Zadies’ social media accounts. But, as far as can be told, the New Jersey Police Department did not see fit to intervene here, unlike with the Hamas cakes in Australia. Is this free speech double-standards?

The key difference, besides the contrasting nature of the two warring organisations, would seem to be that the IDF cake was aimed at cake-consenting adults, but the Hamas one was apparently aimed at indoctrinating innocent children. In relation to the Sydney case, Alex Ryvchin, of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, said that “It takes a rare kind of psychosis to want to teach infant children that Hamas terrorists are to be admired and emulated. If this is what is happening in some Sydney homes, we should prepare for a generation of violent extremists.” Maybe one day these kids will all grow up to start stoning adulteresses to death using stale rock-cakes?

Throwing a Nazi Party

The idea of disturbed parents placing weird extremist messages iced onto their innocent young children’s birthday treats is a recurring media trope. In 2008, for example, New Jersey couple Heath and Deborah Campbell made global headlines when they publicly complained about how their local branch of ShopRite had refused to ice a personalised message to their son on a cake intended to celebrate the occasion of his third birthday. Deborah Campbell had asked this message read “Happy Birthday, Adolf Hitler!”, as that was the boy’s actual legally given name, but a supervisor had refused this request as “inappropriate”.

Fortunately, the Campbells’ local Wal-Mart proved more than happy to oblige, and made baby Adolf his cake with no objection whatsoever – a fact which, once revealed, immediately led the supermarket chain to review its policy on such matters. (Surprisingly, Wal-Mart had previously had no “Official Nazi Cake Policy” on-hand for easy use by staff.)

Asked why they had named their son after history’s most notorious fascist dictator, Mr Campbell explained that he simply felt it would be unique, seeing as “no one else in the world would have that name” (wonder why not – echoes of my previous recent Mercator article on strange baby-names). However, it later transpired young Adolf’s female siblings had been given similarly “unique” names too; one had the middle-name “Hinler”, after “Himmler”, and the other was called “JoyceLynn Aryan Nation”. Good luck getting those names iced in on cakes in the future too, Herr and Frau Campbell.

Strangely, the Führer-cosplaying Campbell denied being a racist, saying he had allowed several mixed-race children to attend Adolf’s birthday party and eat Baby Adolf’s cake. He even invoked America’s then-recently-elected first black President, Barack Obama, in defence of his cause, saying “There’s a new President and he says it’s time for a change ... They need to accept the name. The kid isn’t going to grow up and  do what [Hitler] did.” Seemingly, Campbell was implying that people being prejudiced against the idea of calling your kid Adolf Hitler was just another kind of racism, but against white Aryans, not browns or blacks.

A few days after the embarrassing cake episode, the Campbells’ children were actually removed from them, something the media gleefully reported on using headlines like “Judge Delivers Final Solution for Baby Adolf Hitler”. Will something similar happen with young Omar in Sydney in relation to the latest extremist-supporting cake controversy? We shall have to wait and see.   


Join Mercator today for free and get our latest news and analysis

Buck internet censorship and get the news you may not get anywhere else, delivered right to your inbox. It's free and your info is safe with us, we will never share or sell your personal data.

The icing on the cake

Society does seem to be a little selective in terms of which oddly-decorated cakes it deems worthy of official police prosecution/mass public condemnation, and which it does not. For instance, linking in with the fact it is currently Compulsory Gay Pride Month, there are plenty of birthday cakes out there these days promoting homosexuality and transgenderism to children, like this special “PROTECT TRANS KIDS” example, whilst Amazon offers up this queer monstrosity:

“Report an issue with this product,” Amazon says beneath this image: where do I begin? Should any parent who bakes or buys one of these for their five-year-old have their kids taken away from them too? Up until about ten years ago, almost everyone sane would have said “yes”. Today, opinion may well be much more divided.

There is also the related issue of whether commercial bakers themselves should be compelled to place messages, slogans or symbols they themselves personally disapprove of upon the cakes of their customers. There have been several high-profile cases of gay activists approaching Christian bakeries (but never Muslim ones, oddly enough …) in the US and UK in recent years, and demanding their proprietors bake them confectionaries celebrating gay marriage. When the bakers predictably then refuse – which, a cynic may suggest, is precisely what the gays were hoping would happen – interminable lawsuits have ensued, with varying results.

Cutting the cake both ways

Isn’t this the reverse of free speech, in terms of being a form of “compelled speech” instead? One surprising voice who thought so was the prominent British-based gay rights activist (some would say obsessive) Peter Tatchell, who wrote about one of the UK-based cases in The Guardian in 2016:

“The judge [in this UK case] concluded that service providers are required to facilitate any ‘lawful’ message, even if they have a conscientious objection. This raises the question: should Muslim printers be obliged to publish cartoons of Mohammed? Or Jewish ones publish the words of a Holocaust denier? Or gay bakers accept orders for cakes with homophobic slurs? If the [present] verdict stands …  it would leave businesses unable to refuse to decorate cakes or print posters with bigoted messages. In my view, it is an infringement of freedom to require businesses to aid the promotion of ideas to which they conscientiously object. Discrimination against people should be unlawful, but not against ideas.”

I would tend to agree with Mr Tatchell here. But shouldn’t such considerations of ideological tolerance also apply the other way around, to the people who commission weird cakes in the first place, as opposed to those who subsequently agree or disagree to bake and decorate them?

I have no particular fondness for either neo-Nazis or jihadis – or, for that matter, bigoted queer obsessives who go around persecuting innocent Christian bakers for no good reason. But then, they all probably have no fondness for people of my politically opposed persuasions in life either, and if for some reason I was motivated to walk into my local bakery and demand they make me a cake saying “BAN GAY PSEUDO-MARRIAGE!”, “DYLAN MULVANEY IS A MAN!”, or “CRUSH GAZA NOW!”, then I wouldn’t like it if they intervened to try and get my kids taken off me by social services.

In the most egregious such cases – like those in which parents appear to be grooming their toddler to become a Junior Jihadi suicide-bomber – perhaps the intervention of the State is indeed justified. But this could also become the beginning of a slippery slope in which people end up being legally persecuted simply for holding unpopular opinions, as in the old Soviet Union.

Let them eat cake … not write slogans all over it

The real problem here lies not with idiots sometimes paying to get stupid things written on cakes, but with wider social trends.

Genuine fringe weirdos like the Campbells, whose laughable pro-Hitler views have precisely zero wider societal purchase, are not a civilisational threat. A far greater issue lies with the much larger presence in the West today of fanatical identitarian groups like the thousands of pro-Hamas Islamist sympathisers who have blindly been allowed into our societies unchecked, or all the blinkered LGBTQ zealots and extremists whose loony cause has widespread sympathy amongst the current-day pink-captured governing class and is likewise being imposed upon an unwilling society en masse.     

Sadly, we have less and less of a normative, shared common culture and value system in the West these days and, consequently, the one single standard communication people used to get iced onto their birthday cakes – i.e., “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!”, bizarrely enough – has now increasingly been replaced instead with an endless contradictory cacophony of wholly incompatible messages, from “FREE PALESTINE!” to “KILL THE JEWS!”, from “GAY MARRIAGE NOW!” to “GAY MARRIAGE NEVER!”.

Granted, such extreme examples are still fairly rare, but they never used to happen at all. Whenever I went to a birthday party as a child, I don’t remember ever seeing any cakes praising the IRA or Communism: they just had cartoon pictures of superheroes and footballers on them, not Gerry Adams or Pol Pot.  

Maybe true freedom of speech can only flourish in any society that is not so far gone into civilisational incoherence and self-indulgence that its members still retain an innate sense of self-discipline about under which circumstances it is and is not appropriate to exercise such a valuable gift – e.g., during a political hustings debate, or a talk with adult friends about politics, not on the icing of a helpless four-year-old’s birthday treat.

When it comes to completely unfettered and undisciplined freedom of speech and a stable, cohesive society, maybe the West is currently discovering the hard way that you can’t have your cake and eat it too. 

Share this birthday advice with your friends. Use the social media icons on this page. 

Steven Tucker is a UK-based writer with over ten books to his name. His latest, “Hitler’s and Stalin’s Misuse of Science”, comparing the woke pseudoscience of today to the totalitarian pseudoscience of the past, was released in 2023.

Image credit: Bigstock  


Showing 3 reactions

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
  • mrscracker
    When did cakes become placards?
    We had Mennonite friends who owned a home bakery. They sold cakes to everyone but never decorated their cakes and never wrote names, slogans or propaganda on them. That was considered vanity.
  • Paul Bunyan
    commented 2024-06-24 09:48:31 +1000
    Thank you for demonstrating that there’s no “hate” like Christian love. Since you hate everyone who isn’t cisgender and heterosexual, you would happily partake in genocide if a religious leader instructed you to.
  • Steven Tucker
    published this page in The Latest 2024-06-24 08:56:49 +1000