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“Are Swastikas Offensive?”

Posted by Henric C. Jensen on September 23, 2007


There is a subtle difference between the Ancient, non-offensive Swastika:

and the distorted version the Nazis used:

If you look at old photos from the WWII you will notice that the Nazi Swastika is ALWAYS “at an angle” – this is the offensive use of the Swastika.

I think it’s important to know this difference and to be aware that it is only this swastika, and derivations of it in later times, that signify what Nazism stood for.

As always it is a matter of education and information.”

“It doesn’t matter at this point …what the swastika originally stood for … the common perception of the symbol today overrides any history prior to the Nazis.

I’m a firm believer that, in most cases, people are offended by things because they choose so be. But when there are so many who are to strongly offended, then yes, it earns the label of “offensive.” -“

“The line between where and when the swastika becomes obviously offensive does cross somewhere, even though I don’t think the line is so easily drawn. I think we have to go with the best we have: widespread agreement of its offensiveness, across many contemporary peoples and cultures.”

“I’m thinking, just because the Nazis distorted the original meaning of the swastika, doesn’t mean we have to.”

“I am not offended by a few scratches, I am offended by meaning.”

Five different people, five slightly different opinions.

The general consensus in that discussion was that, YES, the Nazi version of the Swastika is offensive to a majority of people.

A minority in that discussion wanted to have his definition of it as “non-offensive” elevated to general consensus presumably in the name of Free Speech. Because he doesn’t find it offensive, it is not offensive. Pretty weird coming from someone who purports to defend freedom of speech – trying to impose a dictatorship on the rest of us.

Is it offensive? Is it a violation of free speech to expect people not to use it in public?

“I am not offended by a few scratches, I am offended by meaning.”
“Well, [...] – the Nazi Swastika carries meaningconnotations – for a majority of people born between 1933 and 1980 (I am going by when the youngest person I last spoke to about this, who could actually give a time line of the Third Reich, was born). That meaning is negative. In its “simplicity” it spells out genocide, hatred, discrimination, death, extermination, torture, racism, all things bad. That is what people “see” when they see a Nazi Swastika. They see the meaning, and they are offended – by the meaning it carries. The symbol carries that meaning and by removing the symbol, the meaning is removed.

To many of us, the meaning of the Nazi Swastika is a pure physical feeling of up-chucking, fear, anger – the knowledge that someone in that area is prepared to kill us. If it doesn’t have that meaning for you – good for you, but to claim that it doesn’t signal those things, and therefore is not deeply offensive, is just simple lack of imagination, compassion and a down right denial of historical facts, as well as denial of the impact that symbol had on people’s lives and still have.”

At least he is offended by the meaning of the symbol, even if he doesn’t get the connection between the symbol and the meaning of it.

There are some things society as a general entity find so abhorrent that it will legislate against them, simply because the mere existence of those things is an affront to human society. Promoting genocide is one of those things, racism is another.

In a modern society symbols that carry the meaning “genocide, hatred, discrimination, death, extermination, torture, racism” is automatically considered an affront to society, because those symbols cannot be used in any other or meaningful way, they cannot signal anything else.

Of course people have the right to hold views that coincide with the meanings of those symbols, and to speak their opinions – but to expect that they can do so unopposed by either society or the general majority seems a bit naive, or even claim that when they are opposed, they are being silenced is just so much horse manure.

2 Responses to ““Are Swastikas Offensive?””

  1. I agree with you. There is a symbol, then there is THE SYMBOL.

    Like

  2. The thing is that it shouldn’t even be debatable.

    What to do about the symbol when it appears, that can be debated, discussed, that we can have different opinions about, but not whether the symbol is offensive.

    My wife asked me today – “so what about the Magen David – as it is a symbol of oppression, to the Palestinians, should it be banned?”

    If 22 Arab Nations want to ban the use of blue six-pointed stars inside their borders, of course they can do so. But, as with other “bannings” it would be more of a signal of the level of democracy than of anything else.

    I have never been for banning things – I am more of a “let’s educate, educate, educate – and oppose, oppose and oppose.

    Things have a right to be offensive – and people have the right to express what is offensive – just a society then have the right to educate them about the offensiveness of what they expressed.

    “If you can’t take it don’t dish it.”

    Like

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