When will the swastika be freed of Nazi associations?

The swastika is a very old symbol, used by a huge array of cultures. Of course, one of those happened to be the Third Reich.

Time for some logic. Wheee!

(1) Eventually, given a long-enough span of human history, numeous evil powers and tyrannies will arise.*

*I know a lot of utopian internationalists seems to think that if we turn everything over to a central world government composed solely of themselves, everything will be fine forever. This, however, is about probability and fact, not fantasy, and is not an aspect of this discussion.

(2) These powers and tyrannies will have symbols to represent themselves. This has happened in the past and we simply don’t know or recognize them, or ignore them.

(3; 1+2=3) It’s therefore impossible to be “considerate” through the avoidance of all symbols, because everythinng is a symbol to somebody. Thus, any symbol used by anybody is treading on someone’s toes. Given long enough, all possible symbols will be used by somebody bad and thus using them would be “insulting” some group, I guess.

(4) Anything we like also must have a symbol to represent itself; to serve as an identifying mark, and which serves as an object of mental focus: exactly the same reason Bad Guys have theirs.

(7; 3+4=7) Eventually, given a long enough span, anyone who is decent will have no more symbols to use. They will need symbols but not have them available.

This is not really a good option, it seems to me. How can we purify symbols so that they are no longer associated with the taint of evil - in the particular case of the swastika, the Nazis? Thw swastika is a neat symbol, so how do we cleanse it of bad memories?

Edit to add: Wikipedia Link.

Outside of the West, I imagine it IS free of Nazi associations, at least in places. But in the U.S. and Europe? Don’t hold your breath. The fact is that a vast majority of people see the swastika and think of Nazis, and it’d take a very long time for that to fade. There is still a fair number of living Holocaust survivors, and they certainly won’t see it without thinking of the Nazi associations. Their children won’t either, and who knows about those people’s children.

Symbols are symbols - they are meant to represent things. I don’t see any reason they need to be cleansed. Are we only supposed to have symbols for things that are good?

I’d wait for the Confederate Battle Flag to lose its associations first. And that too will take a looong time. Both are taken to stand for societies with a specific, targeted hate of one racial group.

It might have to wait until the whole definition of outrage changes.

We’ve had this one on the Board before. My suggestion: A helluva long time. Nazis make good villains (as in Indiana Jones movies), so it’ll be a LONG time before we stop being reminded of the association.

The cross will probably stop being associated with Jesus before the swastika stops being associated with nazis.

I don’t think the Confederate Battle Flag is really a good analogy to the swastika. Like it or not, the Confederate Flag is inextricably linked to a specific period in history and a specific political regime (the Confederate States of America, natch). The swastika, on the other hand, has appeared in many different forms throughout history and has had all sorts of different meanings. Certainly this particular arrangement of the swastika will never be associated with anything other than Nazi Germany; conversely, the flag of this Australian shipping company probably bears about as much resemblance to the various Confederate flags with blue saltires on red fields as this flag of Jainism does to the flag of Nazi Germany; yet no one would likely conclude that the Huddart Parker shipping company of Melbourne, Australia, were Confederate sympathizers, while many Westerners might initially be somewhat nonplussed by Jain or Hindu use of the swastika (even though, just going by etymology alone, Jains and Hindus clearly have more claim on the swastika than those johnny-come-lately pseudo-Aryan Germans do). At least in the West, Nazism has tainted almost all representations of the swastika in a way that the controversies over the Confederate flags have failed to do for saltires. Heck, the flags of Alabama and Florida seem to have escaped any serious controversy despite being likely based on the CBF.

Maybe not so relevent, but interesting.

I’ve been having an ongoing discussion with my high school students (in Cameroon) as to why I don’t think the swastika is such a great thing to decorate their notebooks with. All my talking in the world can’t convince them that it has a lot more connotations than just hating the French (the German colonization of this place is looked upon somewhat fondly, the French, not so much).

The power of symbols to persist through time is astonishing once you think about it.

In 450 A.D., Attila the Hun united a steppe empire, commanding from the saddle, wielding a composite bow and a horsehair whisk. Through various successor horse peoples, these symbols of authority were passed to the Turks. When the Ottoman Empire was formally partitioned after World War I, the Sultan still held court sitting on a modified saddle, with horsehair whisk and bow at hand, even in the age of tanks and airplanes, 1500 years later.

When will we stop associating Egypt with pyramids? Other cultures built pyramids, look at Central America.

The power of symbols in the human mind is long and subtle, especially when the symbols in question applied to a distinctive culture or serve as handy shorthand for some universally recognizable concept. Quick, what does a giant wooden horse bring to mind?


How long until the symbol that Prince was using for a name is up for grabs again?

Since there are only a limited number of facial hair patterns, how long until the Hitler mustache stops being associated with Hitler?

That depends . . . is it a giant wooden *rocking * horse?

Associating cultures with symbols is a little different from associating symbols with cultures. The OP is asking when the swastika will no longer expressly mean “Nazi”, not the contrary. I think that the answer is not any given length of time, nor the rise of some group that outdoes the Nazis in evil, but instead when some other group succesfully co-opts the swastika (imagine if the Falun Gong became a major world religion)

For example, almost all of the symbols of Imperial Rome have disappeared: the eagle now represents America, and previously, the Russian and Austrian empires. The Roman salute is now only known as a ‘Heil Hitler’ gesture.

When fools don’t fall in love, and Michael Jackson wears his other glove.

When King Kong ain’t a monkey, and James Brown ain’t funky.

(David Bromberg) :wink:

Ghenghis was possibly, pound for pound, the most prolific killer since the Stone Age, and today, he’s a Mongolian national hero, and I don’t personally know anyone who thinks ill of him, or thinks much of ANYTHING about him.

But Ghenghis lived 800 years ago. It may take a similar amount of time for the memory of the Nazis to have faded enough for the swastika to be innocuous again.

There’s a guy in Canada named ManWoman who’s trying to rehabilitate the swastika. Has it tattooed all over himself, and is a nice person. We’ll see how that goes.

After the end of the Kali Yuga. :wink:

I don’t think it ever can be freed of Nazi Germany.

We’re talking about a symbol that makes people run
without anything being said about it.

The military tried to do just that this year when that base was
built and resembled a Swastika from the air photos. :slight_smile:

Already is… now it’s associated with pedophiles. The pederstache!

In the year twenty five twenty five.

But only if man is still alive.

Siouxsie Sioux did her bit to reclaim the Swastika from its Nazi associations, but soon gave it up as probably impossible.

How can we expect the swastika to stop being associated with Nazism when it’s still being used by hate groups?

Even if the swastika itself is redeemed, it seems unlikely that that particular use of it ever will be.