There is one teenager who Justin Bieber thinks is maybe—just maybe—more important than himself. And he really hopes she’d be, like, totally into his music.
Bieber visited the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam this weekend, where he is performing a concert, and wrote a humble little note in the museum’s guest book: “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.”
(Beliebers, as what Bieber’s alarmingly devoted fans call themselves, are all furiously googling “Who is Anne Frank?” right now.)
The Anne Frank House, understandably touched that an international pop supernova like Justin Bieber would stop by the museum, posted Bieber’s note on its official Facebook page. BBC correspondent Anna Holligan discovered the post and spread it through Twitter, eventually tracking down the museum’s press office to confirm that he really did write the statement in the guest book. As the Bieber’s quote spread, so did incredulous indignation that the singer would venture that the global icon, had she not died at a concentration camp in 1945, would turn to writing “I <3 Justin” in her diary. And Beliebers, as they do, were quick to come to their beloved’s defense.
Unsurprisingly, the jokes at Bieber’s expense quickly flooded Twitter. “Hitler did what?? Oh man, I would never do that to my Secret Attic Jews,” tweeted comedian Rob Delaney. “Free parody gift book idea: The Diary of Justin Bieber,” tweeted Daily News editor Josh Greenman. A hashtag #wouldhavebeenbeliebers sprouted suggestions ranging from JFK to Medgar Evers to Aaliyah and even the Virgin Mary.
In tandem with the comedy, there was plenty of outrage. A sampling: “She would’ve been a WHAT? That little idiot is way too full of himself. She’s an important historical figure so show some respect.” “Way to turn an inspiring moment into something about yourself.” “I beliebe someone needs a taintpunch.” Actress Emmy Rossum weighed in: “Anne Frank suffered WW2 and Justin Bieber hopes she would have been a fan? I have no words.”
The Anne Frank House’s Facebook post is also, however, teeming with Beliebers defending Bieber’s comments. “Bieber did the right thing. Proud of him.” “At the first moment I was also shocked about his words. But why shouldn’t he hope that this great girl would have been a fan of him?” “Yolo.”
Others were more measured in their mockery. “Guys, when I went to the Anne Frank House people were smiling and eating ice cream for photo ops. Remember, EVERYONE is an asshole,” tweeted Buzzfeed associate editor Louis Peitzman. The Anne Frank House, for one, agrees. “He’s 19, it’s a strange life he’s living, it wasn’t very sensible but he didn’t mean bad,” a spokesperson for the museum told Holligan.
Perhaps, then, it may be fitting to remember in this situation Anne Frank’s own inspiring words: “Despite everything, I believe people are really good at heart.” Bieber is a teenager, and he probably was, as many people are when visiting the Anne Frank Museum, touched and moved by the experience. He may have intended for his note to be a poignant homage to Frank.
Still, the jokes, as several people on Twitter point out, write themselves. “Despite everything, I beliebe…”