So Now What?

Originally published January 30, 2018.

OK. So now what? The trim is burned, or will be soon. The reign is abdicated, a regent is being chosen. What must we, the people of the Society for Creative Anachronism, do next?

All that we must in order to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

I was involved in a conversation earlier this weekend where it was suggested that punishing the offenders was sufficient, and the SCA, which is already asking for commentary on its hate-speech policy, does not need to make a rule that applies to everyone because of one person’s (or in this case, a couple’s) mistake, and that there was a potential slippery slope – that if we made a rule today about swastikas, we could make a rule some other day about some other symbol.

I disagreed – badly, because I wasn’t thinking my words through well enough, and the conversation got sidetracked, so I want to try to come back to it again.

So, why does the SCA need to make a rule that impacts us all for one couple’s mistake?

To try and make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Master Johan von Metten (I hope I haven’t mangled his name, but I’m clearly not spelling it right) posted in one or another of the very long threads that took place over the weekend, that for the first several hundred years – I believe he said 400ad – it was not considered proper to wear a cross it symbolize Christianity.

400 years! For something that actually symbolized the grace and forgiveness of one religion’s G-d for the human race. And it was even longer before more ornate crosses came into fashion.

Hitler rose to power in 1933-1934, and held it till 1945. That’s AFTER my mother’s birth. That’s after my father’s. It has been less than 3/4 of a century since the Nazis of Germany wore the swastika as they slaughtered over fifteen million people.

And of course, it’s still used today to the same ends.

As a people, we are not even close to being ready to reclaim this symbol as it was used by Hindus, Buddhists, Aboriginal tribes of the Americas, or even Anglo Saxons and Vikings. It won’t happen in my lifetime, or my children’s, or my grandchildren’s. Maybe some time in AS 455. But I won’t be holding my breath.

So, what must we do? Make sure that no one – ever – has any misappropriation that it might be ok to wear a swastika in the SCA ever again. It cannot be. The symbol is effectively irredeemable.

And what of the slippery slope? I don’t think there is one. This one is different. This one stands alone. There’s a reason why so many alternate history books ask what would have happened if the Nazis won. There’s a reason why it features so heavily in alternate dimension or universe stories. It is unique to our collective history as people in 2018 participating in the SCA, and we cannot divorce that context from this issue.

Further, I submit that this is what the SCA mission statement is for. This is what our governing documents do. We should ABSOLUTELY make rules about things like this. It’s not the first time that a sitting royal has worn a swastika on an SCA throne. We should make sure it’s the last.

—edit—
I’d put it right in the governing docs. “the use of the swastika within the sca, whether in heraldry, as ornamentation on garb, as decoration, or any other use outside of classes and research dedicated to the study of the symbol in historical contexts, is forbidden.”
—edit—

I encourage everyone to share their opinions with the Board of Directors by emailing comments@sca.org.

Letter to the BoD

Originally published January 28, 2018. This seems so long ago.

Note: the below is the text of an email I sent to the BoD and TRM CAID. It saddens me to have to have done this. Nevertheless, I feel it was necessary to do. Their Majesties of CAID have shown such poor judgement, I believe that it endangers the SCA as a whole.

I write today both to the Board of Directors and Their Royal Majesties of CAID in the same letter.

The swastika is an irredeemable symbol. It is impossible to use it in such a manner that only represents pre-Nazi connotations. By wearing the symbol, enlarged and repeated, along with other Nazi symbolism, is such an extreme error of judgment, coupled with the non-apology that TRM posted, that I do not believe that the current King and Queen of CAID can conduct a reign. I encourage Them to step down, and I encourage the BoD to remove them if They refuse to do so.

In addition, I recommend that the weaver, who has reportedly refused to acknowledge the alignment with Nazi ideology also be investigated, and if necessary, sanctioned.

Lastly, I recommend that the SCA immediately adopt language banning the wearing of nazi symbols, in addition to reaffirming that such symbols continue to be disallowed in SCA heraldry.

My family tree has many missing branches, due to the people who wore that symbol on their clothing. Had my grandfather not escaped, I would not be here. We can never forget what happened, and we can never allow these irredeemable symbols of hatred to be normalized.

The King and Queen of CAID have violated a trust. The Board of Directors must seek to restore that trust, and ensure it cannot be violated again.

In service,

Baron Andreas Blacwode, MidRealm
mka Drew Nicholson
Aurora IL
Membership # 73218

Today I Woke Up Laughing

Originally published January 22, 2018.

I have a recurring dream: I’m at a wedding like the one in Three Weddings and a Funeral, held in the Tudor mansion. I’m sitting in a fancy room with what seems to be a choir loft, with some friends, dressed for the wedding, but I think the wedding is over; my tux jacket is off, and my collar is open.

In the background is this thundering noise, like a herd of horses galloping through a canyon. The noise gets louder, and we look up, trying to find the source of it, when the doors at the back of the loft bang open, and everyone has to scramble, because an enormous… pack of schnauzers and pit bulls and dachshunds comes charging through. Behind them, holding onto their leashes and somehow flying, are a cloud of children, one for each dog. Two of the dogs are Ace and Juno, and of course, Charlie and Ben are in the lead, Ben giggling insanely, and Charlie making a face like the attached.

They charge through the loft, the kids bobbing at the end of the leashes and then back up and out, and the doors slam behind them.

This morning, I woke up laughing.

Letter to the BoD

Originally published as a comment on January 31, 2018

Here is the letter I wrote to the BoD today.

To the Board of Directors:

I write today to speak to you of the proposed changes to the mission statement that you have posted at SCA.org. I agree with the changes, but I feel that they do not go far enough.

Therefore, in addition to the changes that have been proposed, I suggest that the Governing Documents be amended. Under Section II ( GENERAL CONDITIONS AND PRIVILEGES OF MEMBERSHIP) I recommend that an additional item be added:

G: Forbidden Symbols

1. The use of the swastika (sometimes also known as a hakenkreuz or a sun circle) within the SCA, whether in heraldry, as ornamentation on garb, as decoration, or any other use outside of classes and research dedicated to the study of the symbol in historical contexts, is forbidden.

a. Any symbol that at first glance appears to be a swastika will be regarded as such. Members may appeal to the highest SCA authority on site.

b. Any swastika displayed in an A&S activity or discussed in a class will include sufficient disclaimers that viewers/attendees are made aware of the subject matter before being exposed to it.

Lastly: I recommend that you impose Sanctions on Graf Athanaric Thaurismunths sunus preventing him from fighting in any Crown Tournament for a period of no fewer than 3 years and no more than 5 years, with the same restriction on Grafynja Sigriðr in irska as a consort. While I understand that this will appear to be cruel to some, I believe that it is vitally important that the Kingdom of Caid, and through them, the SCA Inc, not appear to sanction the use of hate symbols, specifically Nazi imagery. If Athanaric or Sigriðr were allowed to “walk” through a Crown Tournament via well-meaning friends seeking to make up for their unhappiness over what happened, that would absolutely send the wrong message.

I do not recommend any further sanctions on either of them.

I hope these words are helpful, and thank you for everything that you do to help keep the SCA going.

In service,

Baron Andreas Blacwode, MidRealm

mka Drew Nicholson

Aurora IL

Membership # 73218

Poverty is not a Crime

Originally published January 15, 2018.

I was lucky to grow up solidly middle class. I may not have had everything I wanted, but I had everything I needed. I never went to bed hungry because there was not enough food, and I never went to school in clothes that were old before I beat the crud out of them.

Being poor is not a crime, and we should treat people who are poor with compassion, not reproach. Actual ways to address the issues of poverty include:

Universal health care
Making the minimum wage a living wage
Reducing racism and oppression

How can you help?