People have said this already, so I don’t know that it needs to be said again, but I still feel like saying it:
The swastika is one of humanity’s oldest symbols. Its use predates recorded history, and prior to the Nazis, for as long as it had a known, symbolic meaning, the swastika signaled auspiciousness, good fortune, well-being — in particular, the good fortune inherently delivered from of the ever-turning wheel of the universe itself. For the overwhelming majority of its history, the swastika was a dramatically, uncontroversially positive symbol — and it remains so in Asia today.
We’re not talking about the overwhelming majority like pennies compared to a dollar. We’re talking about an overwhelming majority like pennies compared to, perhaps, hundreds or perhaps even thousands of dollars.
However, nobody in the collected, well-meaning part of the West is trying to bring the swastika into popular use, and the reason is obvious. Because of the Nazis, the swastika has become too closely associated with dark acts and ideologies to ever be used in modern Western society. At least not yet, and not for the foreseeable future. It’s just impossible to completely scrub the associations from the symbol, and the associations are too repugnant.
It seems pretty clear to me, then, what one is saying if one defends the Confederate flag on the basis of its positive connotations. One is saying that the negative connotations of the symbol are NOT so repugnant that they cannot be separated from it.
It’s really not about the fact that the positive associations are a big deal, it has to be about the fact that the negative associations AREN’T a big deal. I just don’t see a way around that.
And I just don’t think that’s right.
It boggles my mind, because it suggests to me that the South has harbored a deep, tacit, and surprisingly mainstream racism for generations, and that it’s done so kind of unbeknownst to the North, which is even more surprising. It’s kind of like your spouse, whom you’ve known for decades, has always had a hard drug habit, and you never knew.