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The Swastika and Symbols of Hate: Extremist Iconography Today

The Swastika and Symbols of Hate: Extremist Iconography Today

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The Swastika and Symbols of Hate: Extremist Iconography Today

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283 pages
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Dirilis:
Sep 3, 2019
ISBN:
9781621537205
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Buku

Deskripsi

“Force[s] even the most sophisticated to rethink and rework their ideas of how images work in the world.” —School Library Journal

This is a classic story, masterfully told, in a new, revised and expanded edition about how one graphic symbol can endure and influence life—for good and evil—for generations and never, even today, be redeemed. A nuanced examination of the most powerful symbol ever created, The Swastika and Symbols of Hate explores the rise and fall of the symbol, its mysteries, co-option, and misunderstandings. Readers will be fascinated by the twists and turns of the swastika’s fortunes, from its pre-Nazi spiritual-religious and benign commercial uses, to the Nazi appropriation and criminalization of the form, to its contemporary applications as both a racist, hate-filled logo and ignorantly hip identity. Once the mark of good fortune, during the twentieth century it was hijacked and perverted, twisted into the graphic embodiment of intolerance. If you want to know what the logo for hate looks like, go no further.

The Nazi swastika is a visual obscenity and provokes deep emotions on all sides. The Nazis weaponized this design, first as a party emblem, then as a sign of national pride and, ultimately, as the trademark of Adolf Hitler’s unremitting malevolence in the name of national superiority. A skilled propagandist, Hitler and his accomplices understood how to stoke fear through mass media and through emblems, banners, and uniforms. Many contemporary hate marks are rooted in Nazi iconography both as serious homage and sarcastic digital bots and trolls. Given the increasing tolerance for supremacist intolerance tacitly and overtly shown by politicians the world over, this revised (and reconfigured) edition includes additional material on old and new hate logos as it examines graphic design’s role in far-right extremist ideology today.
Penerbit:
Dirilis:
Sep 3, 2019
ISBN:
9781621537205
Format:
Buku

Tentang penulis

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the School of Visual Arts MFA Design / Designer as Author + Entrepreneur Program. He is the author, coauthor, and editor of over 170 books on design, social satire, and visual culture. He is the recipient of the 2011 Smithsonian National Design Award for "Design Mind." He lives in New York City.

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The Swastika and Symbols of Hate - Steven Heller

Copyright © 2019 by Steven Heller

All rights reserved. Copyright under Berne Copyright Convention, Universal Copyright Convention, and Pan American Copyright Convention. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the express written consent of the publisher, except in the case of brief excerpts in critical reviews or articles. All inquiries should be addressed to Allworth Press, 307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018.

Allworth Press books may be purchased in bulk at special discounts for sales promotion, corporate gifts, fund-raising, or educational purposes. Special editions can also be created to specifications. For details, contact the Special Sales Department, Allworth Press, 307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018 or info@skyhorsepublishing.com.

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Published by Allworth Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, Inc. 307 West 36th Street, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10018. Allworth Press® is a registered trademark of Skyhorse Publishing, Inc.®, a Delaware corporation.

www.allworth.com

Copublished with the School of Visual Arts

Cover design by Mirko Ilić

Book design by Rick Landers

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Heller, Steven, author.

Title: The swastika and symbols of hate : extremist iconography today / Steven Heller.

Description: New York, New York : Allworth Press, an imprint of Skyhorse Publishing, [2019] | Includes bibliographical references and index.

Identifiers: LCCN 2018056783 (print) | LCCN 2018057011 (ebook) | ISBN 9781621537205 (eBook) | ISBN 9781621537199 (hardcover : alk. paper)

Subjects: LCSH: Swastikas.

Classification: LCC BL604.S8 (ebook) | LCC BL604.S8 H455 2019 (print) | DDC 302.2/223--dc23

LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018056783

Print ISBN: 978-1-62153-719-9

eBook ISBN: 978-1-62153-720-5

Printed in China

Previous Spread: 1933 Nuremberg rally/Alamy Stock Photo

CONTENTS

Acknowledgments

Introduction: What Hate Looks Like

PART I: DEVOLUTION OF A SYMBOL

1. Symbol Beyond Redemption?

2. From Prehistory to History

3. Benign Design

4. Folk, Myth, Occult, Nazis

PART II: OLD SIGNS, NEW LOGOS

5. Heil, Heil, Rock ’n’ Roll

6. Revival and Resurgence

7. Torches, Colored Shirts, Memes

8. Camouflaging the Alt-Right

9. Redemption Impossible

Postscript: Alternate Reality

Selected Bibliography

Index

Propaganda poster with Hitler’s election promise, Give Me Four Years, 1937.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

This book was originally turned down by a number of publishers, so I decided to publish it myself. Two people dissuaded me: Mirko Ilić, who designed the original cover, the original format, and this new edition, believed that a limited print run and even smaller distribution would not do justice to the subject and urged me to reconsider. Mirko has also been a tireless opponent of racism, ultra-nationalism, and fascism around the world through his own exhibitions and lectures, which have helped inspire this new edition. Tad Crawford, publisher of Allworth Press, who has always been supportive, was excited by this project from the moment I approached him and threw his full support behind it, and likewise wanted this edition to address the current rise of ultra-right fanaticism. Chamois Holschuh joined this edition as editor. Finally, gratitude goes to Deborah Hussey for her invaluable consultation and Rick Landers for his heroic rescue. Thank you for all you’ve done.

A few of the essays in the Swastika section (Part I) originated in different forms in other publications. I want to thank these editors for their support and encouragement: Martin Fox of Print, Julie Lasky, formerly of Print, and Neil Feinman, formerly of Speak. More recently, I have published variations and early drafts in Design Observer and The Daily Heller (my printmag.com blog).

A heap of gratitude goes to David Rhodes, President of SVA NYC, who has long supported my efforts with Allworth Press as co-publisher of this and many other books.

The Anti-Nazi Bulletin (Sept–Oct 1939), the official publication of the non-sectarian anti-Nazi league to champion human rights.

INTRODUCTION:

WHAT HATE LOOKS LIKE

The Nazi swastika is a visual obscenity. Once the mark of good fortune, during the twentieth century it was hijacked and perverted, twisted into the graphic embodiment of intolerance. If you want to know what the logo for hate looks like, go no further.

Hate groups in the United States and Europe have employed this and kindred marks—as signs, flags, tattoos—since long before the Nazis were defeated in World War II; and they continue as the emblems of white nationalist and nativist supremacy groups that, sadly, have grown more virulent and brazen around the globe during the early twenty-first century.

To focus an entire book on the swastika arguably intensifies its power and perpetuates its evil, but to ignore it is to allow its representation to go unchecked. I no longer believe what I tacitly espoused in the two previous editions of this book: that in time the swastika can (and should) be returned to its benign state when it once represented, among other things, the sun—giver of light. I’m afraid that the swastika will forever be eclipsed by the darkest of shadows.

Published in 2000 and revised in 2008, this book was originally titled The Swastika: Symbol Beyond Redemption? It posed the question of whether the symbol could indeed be redeemed. I have written articles about serious attempts at reclamation and rehabilitation, including one for The Atlantic (August 14, 2014) on the earnest mission of artist/designer Sinjun Wesson to transform the symbol back to its former spiritual sanctity through his Spiritual Punx line of swastika fashions. Initially, I was sympathetic; however, as long as the Nazi iteration continues to elicit destructive power, there is no way it will ever be redeemed. And I mean never!

The swastika provokes deep emotions on all sides. The Nazis weaponized this design, first as a party emblem, then as a sign of national pride, and, ultimately, as the trademark of Adolf Hitler’s unremitting malevolence in the name of national superiority. A skilled propagandist, Hitler and his accomplices understood how to stoke fear through mass media and through emblems, banners, and uniforms. The Nazis produced graphic design that amplified vitriolic campaigns that were built on the strategic application of mythic imagery and manufactured historiography. Indeed, by commandeering the public stage, the Nazis convinced malleable citizens in Germany and abroad that their enemies—Jews and Bolsheviks—were the cause of Germany’s postwar grief and should be humiliated, punished, and, in fact, eradicated. Joseph Goebbels’s infamous Propaganda Ministry for Information and Enlightenment ensured that truth was expunged, logic was suppressed, and fake news was legitimized. Truth was only true when vetted by the party apparatchiks. From daily newspapers to weekly message posters, graphic design served to both frame and bolster a visual language that vilified the foe. A critical mass—in fact, tons and tons—of print and visual propaganda was highly effective in Germany and abroad, yet the crux of all Nazi symbolic power lay in the swastika—bold and imposing, it was the imprimatur, the brand mark of der Führer, Adolf Hitler, whose professed goal was to make Germany great again, per the slogan Deutschland Erwache (Germany Awake).

How did the swastika leave such a scar on the human race? After all, there were other graphic marks that represent(ed) terror, but none are today as indelible as the swastika. This question has troubled me since I began studying the graphic design and branding of dictatorships, and the signs and symbols representing their ideologies.

Adolf Hitler killed millions and Joseph Stalin killed millions more—the exact numbers are inconceivable. Without trivializing mass murder, it also raises some perplexing brand questions about why the Nazi swastika is universally reviled as the logo of terror, racism, and genocide while the Soviet hammer and sickle, for example, has not been similarly stigmatized?

The Parteiadler Nazi party symbol looks over its right shoulder (left from the viewer’s perspective). The emblem was established by a regulation made by Hitler on November 5, 1935.

Perhaps this is a kind of Darwinian survival of the fittest brand strategy. Stalinism was no less brutal than Nazism; it was arguably more so. But the Nazis were vanquished and the Soviets triumphed in the Heroic War, and much of war-torn Eastern Europe was Stalin’s spoils. He imprisoned and executed millions of his own—Russians, Ukrainians, Poles, Jews, and others within his borders. However, the hammer and sickle was not STALIN—he inherited it (it also symbolized the idea of labor prior to the 1917 Soviet Revolution). Conversely, the swastika was synonymous with HITLER—it was Germany, and Germany was Hitler. Both logos were effective, stark, and impressive, but Hitler owned his mark; Stalin borrowed his.

Despite being outlawed in Germany today, the swastika endures in some form in every country where racial (and particularly anti-Semitic) hatred exists. In the United States, it is still angrily scrawled in public spaces—from subways to synagogues—a trenchant reminder that people are fluent in the visual language of hate.

The swastika inspired many other hate brands—and most are searchable online. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Hate on Display Hate Symbols Database lists 178 images. The library at Shippensburg University (in Cumberland Valley, Pennsylvania) has an extensive collection of alt-right and hate group materials. And the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) documents dozens of American far-right emblems on its website, including many neo-Nazi, neo-Confederate, white nationalist, and separatist groups. The SPLC reports that more than thirty hate groups operate in Pennsylvania alone and forty-eight are being tracked in upstate New York, with around 950 operating throughout the United States.

Many contemporary hate marks are rooted in Nazi iconography both as serious homage and sarcastic digital bots and trolls. For example, the design of a fictional national flag for KEK (a cultish, if ironic, alt-right parody that worships the Internet meme Pepe the Frog) paradoxically mimics a German Nazi war flag. The so-called Kekistan logo echoes Nazi-era armbands and army battle flags in which the swastika is replaced with a typographic mark that reads KEK and a green background is used instead of the Nazi red. According to the SPLC, members of the alt-right are particularly fond of the way the banner trolls liberals who recognize its origins. Others are deceptively unexpressive—even blandly hiding their true intentions—but with implications that are still both disturbing and disquieting. A new extremist party, Aufbruch Deutscher Patrioten (Awakening of German Patriots), adopted the cornflower against the background of a German flag. The small blue flower was used as a secret symbol by the then-banned National Socialists in 1930s Austria before the Anschluss of 1938 brought the Nazis to power in the country, noted The Guardian (2019).

PublicSource, a Pittsburgh-based website devoted to nuanced local coverage, lists as dangerous the logos of questionable groups from the neo-Nazi National Socialist Liberation Front to the Black Nationalist Israelite School of Universal Practical Knowledge. Logos run the gamut from the streamlined Star Trek–esque upside-down triangle of the anti-Semitic Identity Evropa to the subversively corporate-looking seal of the skinhead group Be Active Front USA.

This book focuses first on the history of the swastika. Yet given the increasing tolerance for supremacist intolerance tacitly and overtly shown by politicians the world over, this revised (and reconfigured) edition includes additional material on old and new hate logos as it examines graphic design’s role in far-right extremist ideology today. Hate and supremacy groups have existed in the United States since it was founded, yet representative democracy has enabled enlightenment to move forward, so far. Sadly, today, the democratic star of great magnitude has turned into a black hole. Freedom is increasingly proscribed by anti-progressive leaders with retrograde policies and racialiSt underpinnings. Make America Great Again is a threat, not a promise.

Symbolism plays a huge role in propagating unsavory ideas. Something as innocent as tiki torches became symbols of hate, not givers of light, when they were co-opted by white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia’s Unite the Right rally in 2017. When this happens, it is hard not to feel that the lunatic fringe is no longer on the fringe as the plot against America gathers momentum. This unfathomable twist of life’s coil cannot entirely be blamed on the

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