Wednesday, September 13, 2006

More on a political symbol

Once again the metro pulled way from Qiyan station. I was sitting in the right seat with my camera pointed at the space where I knew the apartment building would appear in a matter of moments. There it was approaching. I caught a glimpse of the red, symbolic violence, but just as I was attempting to capture it in my sights, the building was already past, and then came the announcements in four languages--Mandarin, Hoklo, Hakka, and English--that we were arriving in Qili'an. The doors opened and as if pulled by an unconscious force I arose and exited the train. I exited the station and was determined to get a picture of the flag I discussed in the post below. Well, I walked back towards Qiyan and found the right building. I walked along the grassy field below the metro tracks, but unfortunately it is difficult to see the flag from the low perspective. This is the best I could do:

The only way to get a better shot would be to walk along the tracks, but a gate and a sign that said "Danger: High Voltage" convinced me not to pursue that path.

I know there are some people thinking: "It's probably just some Buddhist icon." Well, yes they are related. In fact, the Nazis co-opted an ancient symbol. Rather than give you the run-down myself, I'll provide you with some links to some of the interesting sites I found. First, here is what the Nazi flag looks like. You can learn more about the Nazi use of the flag here, and about the history of the symbol here and here. The last link is a compilation of quotes from different books that discuss how similar symbols were used throughout history by different cultures, before the Nazis turned it into a symbol of violence. Wikipedia also has a fascinating discussion of the Swastika's long history.

Lastly, I would like to clear up a few points in my last post. I was not arguing that Taiwanese people are anti-semitic. The thought never even crossed my mind. I wasn't even making a case about anti-semitism. The latter is partly because I prefer not frame this kind of phenomenon as "what they did to us," but instead choose the frame: "what humans have done to each other." To me, the swastika is but one symbol of mass violence that humans have produced, and there is the potential for such violence in any society. That is why we should remember--to prevent it from happening again and to not glorify or romanticize the symbols of its manifestation in former times.

I was also making a statement about how dangerous fictions are propagated and perpetuated about different peoples, groups, and events.

I should add that I sincerely apologize if the person is a devout Buddhist.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

it WAS a NAzi flag. i saw one once in Kaos\hsiung too, on CHi Chi island at a novelty store, hanging out window as ferry docked. a real Nazi flag. i asked owner why he said it's COOL! that;s all. No antisem at all, yuou are right. not ignorancy. just like Nazi decals on helmets all over Taiwan. just igorance and fashion, also in japan this happens. the way to solve the problem is to educate people, as the Simon Wiesenthal Center is doing now in Korea, and Japan, and maybe they will come to taiwan in future and help educate new generation. but these nazi things are harmless here, just fashion and ignorance. taiwanese people love Jewish people, no antisem here.

1:04 PM  

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