Wednesday, March 14, 2018


I was reading a discussion of whether or not a certain idea was anti-Semitic. And the general consensus was that it didn't start out that way, but it had been taken over by anti-Semites and so was now irretrievably tainted. But it wasn't taken by anti-Semites. It was gradually being ceded to them. As other people sought to avoid the taint, they reinforced the idea that only anti-Semites would use this idea. In this sense, it's like the swastika. Hindus, Buddhists and Jainists who attempt to use the swastika in its religious sense are treated as if they were wanna-be Nazis, because Western society at large can't be bothered to understand that the symbol has different meanings. And that's in part because it isn't a loss for Western society at large - it's a loss primarily for Indians and others from the subcontinent.

But when I've attempted to make this point - that if we continuously cede things to anti-Semites, sexists or other people we find deplorable, what will we do if they come for something that is important to us, but not to the society at large. Who will we rally to the cause that this should not be taken from us, if we are unwilling to help others keep what is theirs? And there is always this sense that no matter niche a group it is, that they're important enough that they're worth the broader society standing with them to prevent their symbols or language from being co-opted. But I suspect that this isn't as true as they believe it is.

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