Swastikant: I am not a Nazi, honest

Friday, May 22, 2009 13:18 | Filed in Life, Politics, The Pickards

I have a nagging feeling that the teachers at my son’s school might have got the somewhat erroneous impression that I’m a racist, fascist bigot. Although it’s also possible that they might not have got this impression.

Either way, the mere possibility of this impression occurring is not something that is likely to occur on a daily basis (I fervently hope) and therefore I believe it is worthy of note. Incidentally, to anyone who is not a regular visitor to this blog, I feel it might be worth pointing out at this stage that I am not racist, a fascist, or a bigot. I can be argumentative and bloody-minded, but that’s not quite the same thing.

snowflake or swastika (flickr)

Anyway, when my son showed me the pretty blue snowflake he’d made in the thursday afternoon club thing his school has, I was suitably impressed, asking him if he’d done the cutting himself and so on. Yes, he had. He had made it all himself, he said. Only it wasn’t a blue snowflake, Daddy, it was a Nazi flag.

Oh bugger, thinks I. Now my son knows what the Nazis are/were (basically “baddies”) as seen in the Indiana Jones films. However, I don’t know whether he has told anyone at school what he was making, and I don’t really dare ask. If they thought he was making a snowflake, and I start asking them about the swastikas he has been making at school, we’ll get a little confused. On the other hand, if they do think he has been making swastikas then they will presumably think we are part of some neo-nazi group and that we have wallpaper with a repeating pattern like this…

Nazi Swastika (wikipedia)

…watching cartoons like Wacky Racists and going off on our holidays in the Mein Kampfervan.

Then of course you’re left wondering what is exactly the appropriate way to handle the situation. I am trying to explain that you don’t really want to be making nazi symbols in school, because you don’t want people to think you’re a baddie, but on the other hand he has a Dalek Sec and a Cyberman head from Doctor Who, and they are clearly baddies too, so how come it’s okay to draw pictures of one sort of baddies and pretend to be them, when it’s not okay to pretend to be another sort…

Arguably, it would be fair to say that the Daleks and the Cybermen were somewhat more unpleasant than the Nazis, being bent on exterminating the entire human race, but here the fact that they are clearly fictional removes a lot of the problem; whereas the Nazis were certainly not fictional, they were responsible for the deaths of millions, and people still deny this or try to pretend that the whole thing was somewhat less than the way it is presented.

Of course, Indiana Jones is fiction. And there are Nazis in that. And my son, so far as I know, has ever encountered any Nazis outside Indiana Jones.

But you try explaining the cultural emphasis, the history, the ideologies and the problems with the use of Nazi symbology to a five year old who has up until that point really just seen them as “the baddies from Indiana Jones” and see how far you get…

Just for clarity then: I am not a Nazi. Just wanted to make sure that was nice and clear, and that if when I pick the little lad up from school tonight I find he’s been forming a National Socialist movement in the schoolyard, Heil I’ll not be taking responsibility. Okay?

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8 Comments to Swastikant: I am not a Nazi, honest

  1. The Goldfish says:

    May 22nd, 2009 at 1:34 pm

    Both my sister and I learnt to read very quickly and started reading grown-up books when we were eight or nine. So at one point in primary school, my sister’s class were all asked to make a poster for their favourite book, all of which would be proudly displayed on the classroom wall. So there were lots of pictures of the Wind and the Willows characters and other animals, lots of pictures of fictitious child characters. And my sister’s favourite book? The Colditz Story, which she decided to represent with a huge great swastika in the middle of all those woodland creatures…

  2. TGRWorzel says:

    May 22nd, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    Never thought you were Jack, but thanks for the laugh.

    Important that all kids learn about the Nazis though.

    Most importantly, teach kids how the Nazi’s rose to power so we can prevent the same thing happening again.

    Particualrly important in the current political climate, which is not without its parallels…

  3. paul canning says:

    May 22nd, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    I agree with TGR. Often thought (and seen) even little kids absorbing stuff adults think they won’t be able to.

  4. Mike says:

    May 23rd, 2009 at 1:07 am

    You could always try sidestepping the Nazi issue by explaining the origins and meanings of the swastika symbol – you know, lucky sign and all. …and so, strictly speaking – it’s not a ‘Nazi flag’ he’s made, but a lucky sign which just-so-happened to be used by the Nazis (not so lucky for them, but that’s Karma for you…)

    It’s kind of similar to attempts made to reclaim the Union Jack from the racists and bigots a bit closer to home…


  5. Mr Matt says:

    May 25th, 2009 at 1:31 am

    This government has done more to bring back facist thoughts than it has to brin about equality.

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