Usage of an offensive, anti-Semitic symbol has been attempted once again. A European design company called KA Design set out to introduce "The New Swastika" as a symbol of "peace," "respect," and "freedom" on their t-shirts and sweatshirts, as described in a Facebook video posted to their account. The brand, which sold its items on Teespring, gave the symbol a rainbow makeover and hoped people would jump on board to spite Hitler and buy their apparel.
In their Facebook video, KA Design explained that they believe the original swastika symbol was not about hatred and that they want to channel its initial positive meaning. Unfortunately, their attempt to turn the swastika into a peaceful sign, however, didn't go over well at all for many of their potential customers.
It seems it's impossible to separate the symbol from its tainted history no matter how it's dressed up or what its history was before Hitler got a hold of it and used it to represent his harmful, racist movement. Years after the immensely tragic Holocaust, the swastika still evokes negative feelings and a lot of online critics seem to feel the brand should have left the symbol out of their messaging.
People were justifiably angry and began boycotting Teespring, the online site where the apparel was sold.
Elite Daily reached out to the KA Design Team for a statement and the company wanted to assure the public they do not promote Nazism and did not intend to create a negative reaction with their clothing:
The aim of this project is to make people think. What is true Peace? What is true Love? What is true Freedom? Our project wants to express the victory of true Love against Hatred and Nazism in particular. The Swastika, stolen by Nazism and covered by negative and frightening values, is conquered by the colors of Peace and Freedom. Nazism is finally dead, and our shirts are the manifestation of the victory of humanity. We are not neo nazis in any possible way. We are human beings. And as human beings we refuse Hatred. However, our campaign seems to have brought up the worst in people. We understand and accept this kind of response, and we feel truly sorry about it. We believe in a world of infinite forgiveness. We forgive everyone. And we hope to be forgiven. We understand and accept every criticism. However, we didn't expect so much hate from people. Our project goes strictly against Nazi values and doesn't in any way support them. But a large number of people called us Nazi. We ask forgiveness to those people. We want to evoke Love with our project, not Hatred. We don't want people to do the same mistake the Nazis did. We don't want people to hate and discriminate someone or something without even fully knowing or understanding. We want Love to Prevail. But Love was rarely seen during our campaign. We are truly sorry about that: we forgive and ask forgiveness. Our campaign has been disabled by the platform Teespring, which by the way had nothing to do with this project and was unfairly addressed. Some designs were falsely associated with us by some articles: we are not involved with them and consequently are still on sale. Our campaign only involved the ZEN, PEACE and LOVE lines. Any other design presented in these articles is not under our control.
Unfortunately, the part that may be lost on KA Design is that re-associating the swastika with peace and love still won't undo the hurtful memories many people still have.
The KA Design video is correct about the swastika symbol not being originally used as a symbol of hate. According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) website, the swastika was used 5,000 years before Hitler ever applied it to his Nazi movement and was originally a symbol of "good fortune." However, in 1920, the Nazi party formally adopted the swastika and since then, it's been used as a symbol of racial purity, exclusion, and the Holocaust, specifically.
Despite its "good fortune" origins, the Nazi party's usage of the swastika is attached is a visceral, visual reminder of the Holocaust. Upwards of 6 million Jewish people, approximately 7 million Soviet civilians, and approximately 1.8 non-Jewish Polish civilians were killed during the Holocaust, according to the USHMM. Hundreds of LGBTQ+ people were also killed, although no actual number is listed.
The hatred attached to the swastika symbol did not end when the Holocaust ended in 1945. According to Attn.com, anti-Semitic incidents in the United States have risen 86 percent between 2016 and 2017. There was also an increase in abusive anti-Semitic language online in 2016, according to the Anti-Defamation League. Anti-Semitism is still alive and well.
Good intentions might have been at the center of this "new" Swastika, but if it brings up such bad feelings in people and has such a sad history, then perhaps we should just leave the swastika where it is and find other ways to spread love and peace within the retail business.