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Occasionally I wandered in where I was not wanted and gave truthful answers.
Sometimes I even did it deliberately. A little disruption now can prevent disaster later.

NeoNotes — Perception and symbols

I wonder. If a symbol can be "tainted" no matter what it was used for previously, what does it take to "purify" the symbol?

Back when some wise people were trying to pound sense into my dense skull, I was taught that intent and context were more important than the symbol. The symbol was just shorthand for the passion behind the spell.

It seems to me that these days we're more concerned with appearance and not offending people than actual results that create change.


Then it's no longer about the racism or terrible deeds, it's about shame and thou shalt nots. It's about control of the context. It's about perception and appearance.

Behold the Manifestation.

What I am seeing is that the fear is being hyped now, far more so than when I was younger. Racism and neo-Nazism certainly haven't gotten worse, if anything they are dying out. But the PC attitude of what is and is not acceptable, and under what circumstances we can talk about it, and even the language we're allowed to use to describe it, all of that has grown.

It's the politics of shame, and once upon a time not so very long ago, we laughed at the People of the Book for using it.

"That though they are currently few in number…"

Not just few in number, but in record lows.

What's more, most people these days laugh at them. How's that for dealing with fear?

No, not growing again. Getting more attention, yes. Especially since certain politicos need a boogeyman and the usual ones haven't panned out.

Maybe you should look for some more people.

So the answer to fear is suppression?

The real answer is to take away the fear associated with the symbol. You can't hide the symbol away and you can't hide the fear.

You can, however, convince people that they are victims, that they will always be victims, and that they have a right to be protected. Of course that takes away their power and their ability to deal with other people and the World, but why should a little thing like that be all that important?

We need heroes more than we need victims. Victimhood doesn't make you a hero or a saint. And it certainly doesn't bring virtue.

Overcoming fear, moving forward through obstacles, that's where we're tested. That's where we become more than what we were. That's where we move from survival to success.

As long as you give passion and power to the symbol, you've bound yourself far more effectively than anyone else could do.

What I am arguing for is to take the symbol away from Nazism.

Oh, and that people shouldn't accept victimhood. Power from victimhood always depends on the pity from others, and it always makes you less.

Of course you can take the symbol away. We do it all the time.

But not of course if you enshrine the symbol as the Untouchable Evil that Cannot Be Questioned.

What I am saying is that real lasting power doesn't come from victimhood, it comes from moving through and overcoming victimhood.

"You can't take it away while it's still being used to hurt people."

Of course you can, we do it all the time. Just as one very obvious example, pagans took the word "witch" back. From Yankee Doodle Dandy to feminists taking symbols of the "patriarchy," people do it all the time. It's one of the best known ways to deny someone else "power over." You take the symbols and the language away from them, you deny them the power to define the terms.

You're alleging that I support Nazis. I don't. For someone who claims that they are not shaming, you are certainly using the tactics and methods.

Actually you don't. You're trying to shame me when all I asked was what could be done to rid the symbol of the negative passion.

That's how the politics of shame works, and the first step is always to silence those who ask uncomfortable questions.

And what behavior would that be? Asking a question? Not abasing myself before your declarations?

If we can't bring ourselves to discuss a simple symbol without invoking moral outrage, then our passions have doomed us.

I haven't thrown a tantrum.

I've disagreed with many of your assumptions. I've pointed out that you may be perpetuating victimhood. But no tantrum.

Stars above, please tell me you are not invoking "sins of our fathers."

And you're binding yourself.

Don't you see? The vice or virtue is never in the symbol. It's always in the people.

Do you really think that using the symbol in a SCA costume promotes racism? Do you really think that banning the symbol is going to stop racism?

Do you really think that telling people to fear is going to protect them?

So how do we make "reviving the symbols sinister connotations" incredibly silly? Or do something else so people will stop trying even if there is no one else there to shame them?

*shrugs* As long as we perceive the symbol as evil no matter what, we've surrendered power and passion to those we find despicable. Power that they haven't earned and certainly don't deserve. Power based not on their actions, but on our fear of what might happen if we don't cower enough.

I suspect that the anti-Semitism in France right now has much more to do with Islamism (not Muslim) rather than Nazism or white nationalism. Given the history of France, I grant you that it's pretty hard to tell. As far as Charlottesville, who had the greater numbers?

I'm sorry, but it depends on the definition of "neo-Nazi."

As a pagan, there are certain "Christian" views I find acceptable. The so-called Golden Rule makes a lot of sense, and I think it may well be the keystone of Western Civilization. It also predated Christianity and is an integral part of many cultures.

At the same time, there are certain ideas I find repugnant and inherently destructive, and not just the "neo-Nazi" ones.

Pardon, but the SPLC is just a tad biased. I've not examined these particular figures, but I know in the past the definition of "hate group" has included the Liberty Counsel, conservative Christian groups, and a handful of libertarian groups. These people may not agree with progressives, but that's hardly a reason to call them hate groups. At one point Ben Carson was on their list. You might not like Dr. Carson's politics, but he's not marching in the street waving a baseball bat either.

I'm not going to go into too much detail because it's depressing and not a popular opinion here. But there are certain groups (the SPLC among them) that need a highly visible and "dangerous" boogeyman. We pagans don't like it when certain evangelical Christians do it to us. We should learn the signs and recognize when it's being done to others.

There may be threatening members of "group X." We should ask ourselves if that's everyone, or just the extremists. And if it's not everyone, don't you think Lady Justice deserves our respect?

In my experience, Amerindians will be attacked for any religious symbol that isn't explicitly Christian. But that is not this conversation.

I agree, it's not humanity. Humans are the most ornery, opinionated, stubborn, close-minded, and sanctimonious species we know of. We were also gifted with the Spark of Inspiration. The combination has given us the ability to pass our ideas, passions, and dreams to generations unborn. We can do great things and we cannot separate that from the ability to do great harm.

I'm concerned that we are perpetuating the fear. We were overcoming it. Hogan's Heroes, The Blues Brothers, and the immortal Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator

Gods, if you haven't seen that film, you owe it to yourself and your humanity. Or at least the speech (Melodysheep has a great version on YouTube).

The neo-Nazis don't deserve fear. They did nothing to provoke it. They have to hide behind the dreams of a madman because they have no strong dreams of their own.

The only thing they deserve is laughter. And maybe a thump or two on the head if they get too uppity.

I didn't argue for acceptance, I asked what it would take to "purify" a symbol of it's "taint."

I don't believe in enabling power through victimhood. I know that can seem cruel, but it's not. After a time, the training wheels get in the way.

I do care about the people. I won't stop doing that.

As I understand it, healing means moving past the trauma. Eventually bones heal and you don't need the cast. After a while you don't need a bandage to keep your blood from spilling out of a cut. Bruises may be sore for a while but not forever.

The problem with "keeping symbols of hatred where they belong" is that someone else is always ready to declare a new symbol of hatred. I. H. Hagar mentioned the pentagram. ChristopherBlackwell mentioned the American flag. I've known pagans who are ready to lock the Bible away. That doesn't even cover stuff from recent politics that I'm not going into here.

Wouldn't it be better to take the hatred away from the symbol? Wouldn't people forget the hatred if we didn't spend so much time telling them how terrible the hatred was, is, and always shall be?

NeoNotes are the selected comments that I made on other boards, in email, or in response to articles where I could not respond directly.

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