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Tuesday, April 16. 2013
The complete History's Mysteries series is here.
Before I'm accused of committing the first anti-Semitic Google Earth hate crime in history, a few things might be pointed out:
1. From this page:
I'd note the 'still in use today' line, which at least explains the current buildings in Asia. As for the others, they probably figured no one would ever notice, they didn't wish to bow to convention, or they simply couldn't afford to raze and rebuild the whole goddamn building just because the local Jewish Aviators Club got its knickers in a knot.
2. It is a bit silly, after all, in that if you merely flip it horizontally...
So, now it's perfectly acceptable in polite society everywhere? Nary a complaint in sight? It is, after all, just a couple of innocent crossed Z's — where's the harm in that?
There's a point where a symbol begins to outweigh the actual message, and if a couple of crossed — but reversed — Z's make one's blood boil, then someone has gotten too close to symbolism and too far from reality.
3. Besides, artistically, it is a lovely design.
4. And did I mention that it was actually part of the Japanese, Chinese and Korean written languages for only, oh, five thousand years or so? It's been expunged now, but there's still the occasional web site out there whose owner didn't get the memo.
5. It might also be noted in passing that an official Nazi swastika is tilted sideways, on edge:
Which brings us to...
6. Despite its efficient, pragmatic design, there are only six buildings using it on the whole damn planet. I'd guess there were a lot more in the past, but they've either been razed or modified over the years due to 'cultural sensitivity'. I'd bet ten bucks that it's actually illegal in Germany to construct a building using this efficient design. The author was right. Never in history has a symbol been so whitewashed and blacklisted.
Note: There are only five buildings in the video tour. I don't have the location of the sixth, a pair of hospitals that someone posted in a forum:
For this video tour, I've left the program set to dead north. You'll see that every single building is more-or-less 'flat', not tilted, because, while they admired the pragmatic efficiency of the design, they didn't wish to offend humanity any more than they had to.
Well, almost everyone felt that way.
The fifth building on the tour is tilted perfectly on its axis (get it?) to make sure there's absolutely no doubt as to its heinous origin and despicable meaning.
That would be the one built by The United States Navy.
32°40'30.26"N 117° 9'25.63"W
53° 0'28.77"N 6°35'3.74"E
And here's the video tour:
Personally, I blame Ganesha for the whole mess.
Dr. Mercury Tours the World's Swastikas
"Omigod! Quick, someone call the Hate Police!" -- History's Mysteries: The Swastika @ Maggies Farm...
Tracked: Apr 19, 15:04
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GReat piece, doc. I had mentioned the Indian (both Eastern and American) history of the design in an article a few years ago, but that was the extent of it. The language thing was particularly interesting. And it certainly does look like a standard written Asian character.
Jackie sure was cute.
When's the article on maryjane coming out?
Excellent. I belong to an R/C club (planes and copters) and we've been discussing it lately, with some heatedly for it and some heatedly against. Having had no little amount of experience with the dreaded killer weed, myself, I've been hearing some claims that just don't sound right to me, like the "impared driving" thing. I 'spect you'll clear some things up. "Ride of the Cavalry" was the most eye-popping thing I've ever read.
I love R/C stuff, especially planes. Have you seen the vids in my Art Gallery? I ended up with so many of them that I put them in their own section. The one shaped like a bird is just too cool.
I attended an event at a school, and noticed the decorative concrete blocks used to build a wall--looked like a swastika drill team.
Sam - You're in luck. I plugged your computer's IP address into the IRS database, which linked me to the FBI file on you, which showed that your great-great-great-great grandmother had Jewish relatives in her 23rd cousin's family and that your DNA results show this. Therefore, you can rightfully sue these bastards for the torment they've put you through.
I suggest you start at $50 mil and work from there.
The Finns were using the Swastika as a military emblem before the Nazis; I think it was usually "pointed" towards the left, though, and skinnier than the Nazi design.
There were some elite Polish army units that used the Swastika too, again before the Nazis loused it up for everybody.
If you ever see old film clips of fighting on the Eastern Front in WWII, sometimes you see a tank, airplane or vehicle with a skinny wrong-way swastika on it, manned by soldiers wearing what looks like the standard German battle helmet. Them are Finns, and the footage might really be from the late '30s "Winter War" when Russia invaded Finland and got kicked around awhile by the tiny Finnish army.
The Winter War is an interesting bit of pre-WWII history that's overlooked these days. The whole world was stunned because a) those nice Soviets were invading a tiny defenseless nation on an ultra-flimsy pretext and b) for a while, the Finns stomped the Russian juggernaut.
Nobody believed the Russians wouldn't eventually win, including the Finns, but the Red Army's performance was so poor and the invasion was otherwise such a PR disaster that Stalin was compelled to sign an armistice out of embarrassment.
During WWII Finland invited (IIRC) the Germans in for protection against Russia, but later they were subjected to a de facto occupation by Germany. There were a lot of Finns who volunteered to go fight the Russians, skinny backwards Swastikas and all, but their motivation was quite different from the Nazis', although I think some of them were formed up in the "Valkyrie" foreign volunteer SS regiments.
Interesting feedback, like usual. If the Finns really did reverse it, then that warrants some kind of 'Polish Joke' similarity. What, their typesetter was dyslexic?? As far as I know, all of the Eastern symbols are reversed, like the Hindu and Japanese pics above. It was, as I recall, the Hopi Indians who used it in reference to the great god Thunderbird, and it was the only one that wasn't reversed. So, if the Finns actually reversed it, that's a screw-up on a major league scale. As I said, Polish Joke material, all the way.
What's really surprising is how long it took the US Army to switch the logo. I mean, '39 was pretty friggin' late in the game.
Heh!! I was thinking the same.
Maybe because it was an out-of-the-way division in a low population state that automatically associated the swastika with Indians, not a bunch of goose-stepping Germans.
Up until '39 a lot of Americans pretty much just hoped that the Nazis would go away. And a lot of people, I think, just didn't take that silly ranter Hitler seriously; further, before the war the Nazi emblem didn't automatically raise the hackles. The depth and breadth of Nazi depravity hadn't clearly showed itself.
Ya know, your Finn theory is so crazy it might just be right. You can see some Finn idly leafing through an American history book, spotting the Hopi Indian design of the great god Thunderbird and thinking that might make for a nice change. Same 'power and wisdom' meaning, just a fresh slant on it.
That's a swastika joke. :)
As for the US Army, like I said, just a little late in the game. You have to wait for Hitler's army to invade somebody before thinking maybe you should change your logo?
"Well, that does it. Looks like we'll have to dip into the budget after all and change the damn thing. Got any suggestions, Corporal?"
"Well, Ford's talking about coming out with a new model called the Thunderbird, let's just use that."
"Good enough. Call the printer and get our seamstress on the line."
"Right away, Sir!"
And thus are the annals of history are revealed.
I agree with Bob, that language thing was a new one. The rest I somewhat knew about, so it was nice to see the whole thing encapsulated into one package.
Also, thanks for turning me on to Google Earth a while back. I do most of my 'fun' browsing on the weekends and always make it a point to drop by GEHacks, just to see what's cookin'.
Saw lots of Swastikas in Sri Lanka - on storefronts and signs. I think many were flipped like your #2. Just an old old Aryan symbol to them. (Yes the Sinhalese are an Aryan people who migrated down from northwest Asia through India eventually to Sri Lanka.)
"Just an old old Aryan symbol to them."
Uh-yup. I remember when I put this page together years ago that a whole shitload of Japanese sites popped up with it. I just chose the one with the prettiest picture with the symbols predominantly displayed. Like I said, clearly not everyone's gotten the memo.
The most evil and dangerous symbol today is the Christian cross.
its not evil.
but it is dangerous, although not in the way you think.
I remember about 30 years ago house hunting in Central IL. I was examining a house in a smallish [3-4000 or so] and a very nice older home had an actual ballroom in the upstairs. It was too pricey for me, but I wanted to look anyway.
The ballroom floor was parquet, and it had swastikas about 2 feet square all around the floor. About every 4 feet or so. Must have been 30 or 40 or so of them. The house dated from the early 1900s.
What the hell?
Another much maligned symbol, the double-cross:
And beware the Dutch Triple Cross:
Yes, the swastika is a part of East Asian languages from Sanskrit via Buddhism.
As a Chinese character it now, sort of, means Buddhism. It is also used, in Taiwan at least, as their version of the Red Cross, although not affliated with the International Red Cross organization. Called the "Red Swastika Society," it is a Buddhist organization that functions like the Red Cross doing all sorts of charity work.
Also, just like NJ Soldier said about Sri Lanka, it is common in Taiwan. Temples have it all over and many cabbies have some sort of gold swastika hanging from the rearview mirrors for good luck.
I remember a few German friends who were disappointed in that many of the fabrics, pillows, etc. that they wanted to buy as souvenirs in Asia had swastikas in the pattern (which is what made the fabrics rather pretty); but they didn't buy them as the were afraid that they would never get them past customs into Germany as the swastika in "banned" there.
There's a bar in New Orleans accross from the convention center that has swastika designs in the old tile floor. It is a beautiful floor and a great old bar. Glad they've left it alone.
The first time I looked at a Japanese map of a city I was pretty startled to see swastikas here and there. It's the symbol for a Buddhist temple.
Naw, Doc. Growed up wit da Indians, they big on that item. Predates Adolf, so I'm good.
Great article Doc.
Funny story. I was stationed at the 97th General Hospital in Frankfurt in the early 80's. It was the Luftwaffe hospital at one time and has raised swastikas in the ceiling of one of the lobbies.
Story was that an officer ordered them to be removed after seeing them during the takeover. An overzealous enlisted guy over sanded and what was left was a deep groove that resembled... Swastika's. They plastered and painted multiple times but I think because one was aware of what used to be there it is all one saw when looking at the corners. It was something young enlisted guys liked to laugh about. Not the Swastika's-just the unintended consequences thing-and officers not getting what they wanted.
I went to New Mexico State University. Our yearbook was the Swastika. Here are some pictures of the yearbook.
That's just flat-out amazing. If it had been spelled with a 'v', you would have figured the school was started by a Hindi family, simple as that. But to see it with a 'w', as late as 1976, is really mind-boggling.
Then I started wondering what the state motto would be for a state giving Polite Society Everywhere the finger. You figure it'll be tough and gritty, like that "Live Free or Die" stuff.
That means "It goes as it grows".
If you Google "The Grand List of Overused Science Fiction Cliches" you'll come across a page I've maintained on the web for over a dozen years. At one point I marked some of the cliches with a swastika to indicate that they represented the bigotry of the person who included the cliche in their tale.
After some time I received an e-mail from a lady in India who asked me to use a different symbol, because in her culture the swastika was not a symbol of bigotry.
I replaced the swastika with a Klansman's hood, and added an explanatory note about the change.
Then I got a message from someone in Spain explaining that there was a peaceful order in older times whose headgear looked like the Klansman hood.
You can't please everybody, it seems.
Swastikas are really common in Japan too. I'm not even shocked by your military examples anymore. It's a simple and nice-looking symbol.
My great grandpa, a Jew yet, had a phonograph player made of wood with inlaid swastikas all around it. It would have dated from the teens I think.
When I was a in the sixties my grandmother had a small square Navajo rug (at least that's what she called it) with a swastika design.
Heh, when I was in the navy, the HQ of one of my units was in an arm of that swastika building in SD (the eastmost one) and the rest were used as barracks.
Interstingly, if you zoom out and look west, there are a couple of buildings that look like airplanes heading towards the swastikas - built much later, we always wondered if that was deliberate.
A few years ago my boss came up to me and asked "Do you want a Nazi candy bar?" and showed me the candy wrapper with a reverse swastika on it. He'd just returned from Asia and bought the candy bar there. Perfectly normal.
Waitress to obvious native American customer near reservation: "Good afternoon, sir ...may i ask, are you Havasupi?"
Customer, "Yes, i do believe i are --do you have the split-pea?"
"Name that mental illness!"