Sunday, January 23, 2005

To Tell the Truth part II

Since I mentioned Nazis in part I, I thought I would discuss the Nazi parties deliberate and terrifying use of symbols.

The Nazi party hijacked an ancient symbol, the swastika, and appropriated it for their own ends. In Jung’s The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious he comments on the symbolism:
[T]he swastika symbolizes the “ideal” man, whereas the five-pointed star symbolizes the material and bodily man.
In the footnote he states:
It depends very much on whether the swastika revolves to the right or to the left. In Tibet, the one that revolves to the left is supposed to symbolize the Bon religion of black magic as opposed to Buddhism.
Much earlier in Archetypes, Jung comments:
[...] The archetype corresponding to the situation is activated, and as a result those explosive and dangerous forces hidden in the archetype come into action, frequently with unpredictable consequences. There is no lunacy people under the domination of an archetype will not fall prey to. If thirty years ago anyone had dared to predict that our psychological development was tending towards a revival of the medieval persecutions of the Jews, that Europe would again tremble before the Roman fasces, and the tramp of legions, that people would once more give the Roman salute, as two thousand years ago, and that instead of the Christian Cross an archaic swastika would lure onward millions of warrior ready to death-why, that man would have been hooted at as a mystical fool. And today? Surprising, as it may seem, all this absurdity is a horrible reality. [...]
Anyone who has to tell you that they are an ideal man, or born again, and announce it loudly from every banner and armband is probably not an "ideal" man.

I also found the development interesting of the now accepted symbolism of the six-pointed Star of David associated with Judaism. From the Jewish Virtual Library:
The Magen David (shield of David, or as it is more commonly known, the Star of David) is the symbol most commonly associated with Judaism today, but it is actually a relatively new Jewish symbol. It is supposed to represent the shape of King David's shield (or perhaps the emblem on it), but there is really no support for that claim in any early rabbinic literature. In fact, the symbol is so rare in early Jewish literature and artwork that art dealers suspect forgery if they find the symbol in early works.

Scholars such as Franz Rosenzweig have attributed deep theological significance to the symbol. For example, some note that the top triangle strives upward, toward G-d, while the lower triangle strives downward, toward the real world. Some note that the intertwining makes the triangles inseparable, like the Jewish people. Some say that the three sides represent the three types of Jews: Kohanim, Levites and Israel. While these theories are theologically interesting, they have little basis in historical fact.

The symbol of intertwined equilateral triangles is a common one in the Middle East and North Africa, and is thought to bring good luck. It appears occasionally in early Jewish artwork, but never as an exclusively Jewish symbol. The nearest thing to an "official" Jewish symbol at the time was the menorah.

In the middle ages, Jews often were required to wear badges to identify themselves as Jews, much as they were in Nazi Germany, but these Jewish badges were not always the familiar Magen David. For example, a fifteenth century painting by Nuno Goncalves features a rabbi wearing a six-pointed badge that looks more or less like an asterisk.

In the 17th century, it became a popular practice to put Magen Davids on the outside of synagogues, to identify them as Jewish houses of worship in much the same way that a cross identified a Christian house of worship; however, I have never seen any explanation of why this symbol was chosen, rather than some other symbol.

The Magen David gained popularity as a symbol of Judaism when it was adopted as the emblem of the Zionist movement in 1897, but the symbol continued to be controversial for many years afterward. When the modern state of Israel was founded, there was much debate over whether this symbol should be used on the flag.

Today, the Magen David is a universally recognized symbol of Jewry. It appears on the flag of the state of Israel, and the Israeli equivalent of the Red Cross is known as the Magen David Adom.
It appears that what we have here is the effective expropriation and exploitation of symbols to unite people around particular ideologies. The next step is to label everyone else as an outsider. Those who belong are supposed to be special or chosen. Once someone is labeled as this other, they can then be considered as less than human, and violence usually ensues. This seems to be one of the central tenants of one the most violent developments in human history – monotheism:
[...] Here collective identity is explicitly narrated as an invention, a radical break with nature and with the past. A transcendent deity breaks into history with the demand that the people he constitutes obey the laws he institutes, and first and foremost among those laws is the requirement that they pledge allegiance to him and to him alone.

You are my own people, my very own." And, somehow, this takes on heavy sexual connotations because any divergence from the path is labeled as "whoring" after other gods.

This people is to be the exclusive possession of the deity, and none other, and they are to have exclusive desire for this deity, and none other. The Other against whom Israel's identity is forges is abhorred, abject, impure and in the 'Old Testament,' vast numbers of them are obliterated, while in the 'New Testament,' vast numbers of them are colonized or converted. [....] [Schwartz, Regina [1997] The Curse of Cain: The Violent Legacy of Monotheism ; Chicago, University of Chicago Press]
The Nazi party also effectively and brazenly utilized religion for their own purposes:
"God Is With Us": Hitler's Rhetoric and the Lure of "Moral Values"

[...] If photographic evidence of the Third Reich's Christian leanings were not enough, Hitler's own speeches and writings prove, at the very least, that he presented many of the same faith-based arguments heard in America today. Religion in the schools? Hitler was for it. Intellectuals who practiced "anti-Christian, smug individualism"? According to Hitler, their days were numbered. [....]

Writing for Free Inquiry, John Patrick Michael Murphy explained:

"Hitler's Germany amalgamated state with church. Soldiers of the vermacht wore belt buckles inscribed with the following: "Gott mit uns" (God is with us). His troops were often sprinkled with holy water by the priests. It was a real Christian country whose citizens were indoctrinated by both state and church and blindly followed all authority figures, political and ecclesiastical.

Hitler, like some of the today's politicians and preachers, politicized "family values." He liked corporeal punishment in home and school. Jesus prayers became mandatory in all schools under his administration. While abortion was illegal in pre-Hitler Germany, he took it to new depths of enforcement, requiring all doctors to report to the government the circumstances of all miscarriages. He openly despised homosexuality and criminalized it."

For anyone wanting even more proof, Mein Kampf is chock full of the Fuhrer's musings on God. ("I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord," Hitler wrote). But anti-Semitic rants aside, some of Hitler's religious musings are interchangeable with Mr. Bush's.[...]
Yep, the parallels are frightening, and we have all found ourselves in a real nightmare of a situation that we will probably not get out of unscathed.

If someone told you five years ago that we would be at war, perhaps for the rest of our lives, that our freedoms would be steadily stripped from us, and that the US would see a resurgence in a form of Christianity that preached violence, would you have believed them? Probably not. Now just imagine what the next few years may have in store for us.

Now, what does all this have to do with lying or telling the truth? I will get to that in part III.


Blogger zeevveez said...

It seems that you are concerned with telling the truth, so why do you need to quote an encyclopedia that is telling half of it? They say the Star of David "is actually a relatively new Jewish symbol" - please check
IMHO telling the truth and quoting are like water and oil - unmixable...

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