The Bug House Files

Saving the swastika: a battle the Hindus can never win

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Image problem: thanks to the Nazis, the swastika is a toxic brand

Image problem: thanks to the Nazis, the swastika is a toxic brand

In terms of a PR campaign, Learn To Love The Swastika was always going to be a tricky ask.

Nevertheless, this week thousands of tattoo parlours will be giving away free swastika tattoos as part of a worldwide crusade to reclaim the symbol as a Hindu sign of peace.

They have been inspired by the late Canadian artist and poet ManWoman, who wrote the book Gentle Swastika, Reclaiming the Innocence, and who, until I read about him in the paper this week, I had no idea existed.

Somewhere in the dim recesses of mind, I think I was aware of the ancient history of the swastika, which comes from the Sanskrit term for “that which is associated with well-being”.

However since the 1930s the symbol has been indelibly associated with goose-stepping Nazis.

In recent years it has been adopted by fans of the far right, many of whom associate themselves with the more extreme, genocidal philosophies of the Reich, and most of whom sport swastika tattoos. 

In the UK rarely a week goes by without some media outrage sparked by a celebrity, politician or Royal turning up to a fancy dress party in an SS uniform complete with swastika armband; although in some less forgiving European countries they would face a lengthy jail sentence.

The fact is,  as toxic brands go the swastika is up there with the toothbrush moustache and the Christian name “Adolf”.

Which is why the campaign to reclaim it is doomed. Good luck to the peaceniks, I say – but  sometimes, no matter how worthy the cause, you just have to shrug and walk away.

 

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Author: Jim Ford

I'm an author and journalist. "The Bug House" series of Tyneside-based crime novels is published in 2014

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