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.
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.”
I encourage everyone to share their opinions with the Board of Directors by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.