Above Time Coffee Roasters face backlash over alleged neo-Nazi slogan, slogan and language

Above Time Coffee Roasters LLC, a Bloomington-based coffee business run by Sarah Day, co-owner of Schooner Creek Farm, is facing criticism over its alleged use of neo-Nazi images and language.

After Dye announced the launch of Above Time on Instagram and posted the company’s first tweet on May 9, commentators began questioning the company’s logo, language, and policies. Dye did not respond to IDS’s request for comment.

Day has previously been accused of having ties to the now-disbanded white supremacist group Identity Evropa, and has admitted spreading white supremacist ideology in an online chat room. Identity Evropa, which was renamed the American Identity Movement before its dissolution in November 2020, reportedly aims to offer a less visible version of white supremacy that appeals to younger Americans, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

When the group was active, Day was allegedly on good terms with leaders, recruiters, and extremists like Nolan Brewer, who pleaded guilty to a federal hate crime charge on May 21, 2019, for vandalism and bringing home-made destructive weapons to an Indianapolis synagogue with the intent to burn it.

Dye was also the focus of the controversy surrounding the Bloomington Farmers Market in 2019. After it was removed from the Nashville Farmers Market due to Belong to the identity EvropaProtests began at Bloomington Market to have it removed, and the market was eventually closed for two weeks for fear of violence.

The company’s name, Above Time, has been accused of referring to the neo-Nazi book “The Lightning and the Sun”, dedicated to Adolf Hitler “as a tribute to steadfast love and loyalty”. The company logo depicts four coffee beans forming a cross, each with a serrated line and a shaded section to form an “x”.

The cross in the center of the icon was described by Gunter Jekele, director of the Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism as an iconographic between a swastika and an iron cross, a black “x” with roots in Nazi Germany and Prussia. Both are commonly used by neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups in the United States

Jikeli also said that there is a resemblance between the jagged lines within the coffee beans in the logo and the half-screws of the SS, which resemble the shape of an “s” or lightning bolt and are another common symbol of white supremacy. These three comparisons have been echoed by online commentators.

Mark Roseman, a historian of modern Europe and professor of Jewish and Germanic studies, said he agrees with Jekyll’s interpretation. This kind of image, Rosman said, is reminiscent of post-World War II efforts to evoke Nazi images without reproducing them.

“Like a great deal of neo-Nazi content on the web, he is simultaneously in your face but also shy, ready to hide if accused,” Roseman said. “But that does not mean that any thoughtful observer can have any doubt about what is happening here.”

The Above Time logo has sounded alarm bells for experts like Jikeli, Roseman, commentators and the Jewish community alike.

This kind of hurtful language suggests the existence of those who are not “our people,” Roseman said. It was not made explicitly who is unwelcome, but Rosman says he made it clear that Jews are among the excluded because of the company’s policies toward kosher food.

In an Instagram post released on June 13, Above Time said their coffee would not be certified kosher. Kosher products are prepared according to traditional Jewish dietary restrictions, and a kosher certified product promises consumers that these considerations are followed throughout the preparation process, according to Rabbi Sue Silberberg, executive director of the Helen J. Simon Hill Center at IU.

Maintaining Jewish law is technically required in the Torah, the holy book of the Jews. However, Silberberg said the Jewish people follow him for many reasons.

“A lot of people keep it today because it’s a way to keep a Jewish home,” Silberberg said. “It’s a way to introduce Judaism into your life.”

Above Time claims in the same post that kosher-certified food costs more, which Silberberg says is partially untrue. The cost of ensuring that the item is kosher is generally part of the production cost; However, the actual supervision and certification may cost a small fee.

Regardless, the coffee beans are automatically converted to kosher food, according to Silberberg.

“I think she is doing everything she can to make an anti-Semitic and anti-Jewish statement,” Silberberg said. “It’s not about the cost. It won’t cost her more money.”

The Above Time website cites The Kosher Question regarding the additional cost of kosher food. However, the site’s claims, as well as the application made by the same company, have been proven wrong.

The company claims that its customers, whom it refers to as “our employees,” do not need and have not requested kosher certified products.

Jikeli describes this type of language as a strategy shared by white supremacists and neo-Nazis to imply that the Jewish people are not welcome in an institution. Jekyll said this language would be understood by anti-Semites, but it remains implicit enough to claim that this is not the intent.

The controversy comes during a difficult year for the Jewish community in Bloomington. Throughout December, several painted swastikas were seen throughout the city. In February, an anti-Semitic post appeared on the social networking site Greek Rank.

Such events remind people that hatred and bigotry still exist in the Bloomington community, according to Silberberg. But she is also grateful for the outpouring of support after these events.

“It makes people sad, afraid, angry, hurt,” Silberberg said. “But I can say the bright side is the number of people who have come forward to support our community this year.”

Local Bloomington residents rallied against Above Time’s online presence. The company’s first tweet has 133 answers; Almost all of them comment on the images behind the company’s branding or make fun of white supremacy.

One Indiana-based company took action in response to the launch of Above Time. The Indianapolis Coffee Guide, a coffee blog dedicated to highlighting Indianapolis coffeehouses, has partnered with Gravesco Pottery to create the “Anti Fascist Coffee Club” mug. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union in Indiana and a similar donation will be made to the Council on Jewish Community Relations in Indianapolis.

These donations help, but Silberberg said the most important way to combat bigotry is to speak out against it and deny it support.

“We also have the right and the responsibility, to think about where we want to spend our money and who we want to spend it with,” Silberberg said.

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