Thursday, April 16, 2009

Are We Intelligent Enough to Understand Symbols?

I am the gentleman pictured with the "Hope/Change/Obey" sign in this image taken at the Denver Tea Party - and want to take a moment to address the use of the swastika in the image. The Swastika was the symbol of a political party/movement in Germany, that of the Nationalist-Socialist movement... The use of the symbol merely identifies the political movement of the individual associated with "Hope" for Germany in the 1930s. Similarly, the Hammer and Sickle represented a political party/movement in Russia. Obama-ites use their symbol for political purposes - and history will judge the future use of that symbol.

To compare Obama (or Bush, for that matter) to Hitler or Lenin is not to directly relate to their historical outcome (i.e. mass genocide), rather to the threat of such similarities in policy. When our political leaders push for totalitarianism, history shows the consequences. I am not blaming Bush or Obama for genocide - rather warning that all cases of Social Collectivism and Totalitarianism have led to historically grim results. We need to stay aware of historical trends... which is precisely in line with the theme of the Tea Party - that large government, intrusive government, and government aimed at targeting political dissidents is dangerous.

I shared these same concerns with anyone questioning my sign - though those photographing from a distance were free and likely to draw their own preconceived notions about the intent of such propaganda at a rally.

Ultimately, as is reported by the Peoples Press Collective, the use of the Swastika is not appropriate, however common themes of Hammer and Sickle were widely used and not demonized - though more people were murdered under the symbol of the Soviet Union than the symbol of Nazi Germany.

So I pose this question - Are we intelligent enough to understand symbols? Are we intelligent enough to discuss trends, threats, and historical parallels?

I understand that perception is king when mob rules - however, to identify negativity with a swastika and not with the hammer/sickle is asinine. And to think that policies for continued power, including the creation of civilian security forces, are anything less than comparable to the same tactics used by political tragedies of the past is outright wrong.

I am not insisting that the outcomes are going to be equal - but the opportunity surely is!


  1. I understood the imagery of your sign, even before your solid explanation. However, I'm afraid that the problem is that the majority are simply not that bright (so I guess my short answer to your question is "no, the majority are not"). That is part of the problem. Other parts of the problem include good ol' apathy and intellectual laziness. The attention span of the average person is simply limited to a catchy sound-bite. That, in part, is why they are so gullible.

  2. Here is your answer: Yes we can! :) What we often perceive as a negative reaction to symbols based on an assumed lack of knowledge or knee jerk reaction is anything but that...

    The left goes bananas (and non-political people are taken aback) when they see references to the swastika or hammer/sickle being applied towards liberals because for the longest time, liberals have gotten away with bloody murder when it comes to using past political symbols and references as an attempt to draw false comparisons of fascism an Nazism to conservatism. It is because they know exactly what they represent that makes their blood boil or act surprised. There is nothing lost in translation when it comes to your sign, and any attempt for someone to suggest anything otherwise is politically induced intellectual dishonesty. The liberal use of words like fascism and Nazism, and the use of the swastika have become so abused that the true horror of what they represent has been diminished. It has been so pervasive that there are people I have met who have tried to make the dishonest argument that concepts such as tyranny, fascism and Nazism are **incapable** of being applied towards liberalism because they'll erroneously insist that those things are extensions of what conservatism represents when they know that it isn't.

    Liberals by tradition and practice own three political tools: Outrage, protest and the mob mentality. The use of symbols has always been a galvanizing force that they have used to whip their collective into projecting a focused and unwaivering message. Their use of symbols was and still is a tactic they specifically use to stifle dissent among those who disagree. Hence, by holding up signs protesting Nazism - it makes anyone who disagrees with them or staging a counter-protest look to be supporters of Nazism. That is a Strawman argument, but doing so at every opportunity has allowed their dishonesty to pervade conventional wisdom and alter the current lexicon in their favor.

    The question you pose is going to be asked a lot more from now on, because as conservatives - we have not protested or made ourselves heard. We have always put our heads down and simply worked harder or worked smarter to bypass the restrictions on our liberty imposed by government interference. That no longer suffices in the wake of an administration that is attempting to permanently alter our country and culture while they ignore the Constitutional limitations that are meant to prevent such drastic changes. I look forward to attending the Tea Party in Washington Crossing, Pa. tomorrow - my first political protest ever.

  3. This is a difficult question for me to answer, Steve, because while I quite agree with your reasoning here, there's always the possibility that our critics will attempt to portray our use of these symbols as evidence of our irrationality. Forget about the fact when liberal-lefties use such symbolism against conservatives, that is evidence of *their* irrationality. But one of the goals of libby-lefties is to portray us not only as dangerous, but as yahoos. Even though it is them, and not us, who are the half-educated yahoos, they've got this tactic down to an art form.

    Is there a sense, however, in which the liberal-lefties are "fascists", however? You durn betcha. It's just that their tactics are much more subtle. Here's what Jim Kalb has to say about them:

    Right-wingers are alarmed by totalitarian features of advanced liberalism: its insistent universalism, its theoretical coherence and simplicity, its resolute suppression of alternative principles of social order, its principled rejection of common sense, inherited ways, and the very concept of human nature. In the long run, they ask, how much difference can there be between “inclusiveness” — putting all persons and all human goals and actions into a single relation to a single universal and comprehensive order of things — and “Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State”? If anything, the former aspiration seems more unlimited and therefore more frightening.

    From the liberal standpoint, of course, all this is a joke. The liberal state is different from every other state. It’s a system of power that isn’t a system of power. By controlling everything it sets everything free. That’s why it’s not fanaticism but moderation to say that only liberal states are legitimate. Worrying about “totalitarian liberalism” is like worrying about “oppression by neutrality” or “enslavement by freedom.” It might be an interesting paradox, but as a practical matter it just shows there’s something wrong with you. Above all, liberals are good people and don’t do bad things except to the extent they fall short of liberalism.

    Still, what are the practicalities? It may be right — I think it is — to shrug off the liberal self-image as hopelessly self-deluded, but there are some things to say in its favor. In principle, liberalism may be far more ambitious than Mussolini’s fascism, and its ultimate goals may be far more inhuman, but it habitually proceeds by much softer means. Rather than crush an opposing force directly it weakens it by a thousand influences that make it unable to function and assert itself. Criminal prosecutions, when they come, are just a way of formalizing and putting beyond dispute a principle that’s already all but universally accepted. The Swedish government didn’t decide to toss Ake Green in the slammer for a sermon denouncing homosexuality until the Swedes had abandoned religion, made the provident state the basis of everything, and decided that since family relationships no longer served a serious function the sole public standard for sexual connections would be universal equal acceptance. When they came for Pastor Green, no one defended him and they could do what they wanted without being forced outside their comfort zone.

    In the end, the liberal state is not principled, and nothing built into liberalism limits how far it can go.
    Somehow, we have got to find a symbol, one that the general public understands, which encapsulates all this.

  4. Jonesie - you said:
    "there's always the possibility that our critics will attempt to portray our use of these symbols as evidence of our irrationality"

    Enter the Confederate Battle Flag.

    The same miss-use and lack of education about the history, meaning, and purpose of that flag has led to those displaying it being labelled as "yahoos", as you put it.

    As was my intent with this post, with my sign, and with my blog - people need to stop being knee-jerk reactionaries and start thinking!

    Thanks for the comments, sorry you missed the tea party!

  5. I find it ironic (speaking as a conservative mind you) that you decry that lack of intelligence in others while at the same time comparing Obama (who I believe is a center-right president - more similar to Reagan than any other president in history) to individuals such as Hitler an Lenin. This is pure reactionary trash - opposing for the sake of opposing.