Patently Offensive

When did being offended become the national pastime?

People take offense at everything they find different or contrary to their own beliefs or perspectives. The concept of tolerance has gone the way of the dinosaur. Something we dig up by accident once in a while to marvel at the magnificence that once was.

If someone wants to display the Confederate Flag, let ‘em. I think it more a reflection on them that they choose to celebrate a representation of a repulsive philosophy than an acknowledgment of history.

And they lost. I prefer to celebrate a victory. If someone wants to cheer, “We’re number two, we got beat by you,” have at it.

Some people take offense at the display of the American flag. A symbol of their very right to disagree and talk freely about these differences.

Some people are offended by religious displays, patriotic displays, sports, military, police, and other symbols.

All of this offense at symbols belittles the very nature of intelligence and tolerance. It demeans a rational approach to understanding our differences that, when blended in the best way, make us all Americans.

When did it become necessary for the whole world to restrain from championing a cause out of fear that some would disagree? It is in a civil and rational discussion of these different causes that we find a common solution.

Those who embrace the symbol of the Stars and Bars suffer from a lack of fundamental understanding of the overwhelming stain of racism in this country.

Those who would burn the American flag fail to see the contradiction in their actions. They are able to do such things because brave men and women died to uphold the rights represented by that flag.

Those who are offended by the display of a Christmas tree, a Menorah, the Star and Crescent, and others demand tolerance for themselves yet refuse it to others.

Knowledge and education are the keys to the world’s problems. Focusing our efforts on arguing what shouldn’t be displayed drains energy from that which would do good; seeking to understand the history behind these symbols and recognizing them as powerless unless we imbue them with power.

The best example is the Swastika of Nazi Germany. To most people, it represents an unspeakable horror and destructive philosophy. Yet the symbol, called Svastika in Sanskrit, means auspiciousness. Nazi Germany co-opted the symbol for the Third Reich.

Most take offense at the sight of such a symbol. The image of Neo-Nazis in today’s world reflect the continuity of the ignorance, brutality, and irrationality of that era and philosophy. Yet, by understanding the original meaning, one can see the irony in a bunch of ignorant white bigots embracing a symbol created in a Buddhist/Hindu tradition.

A symbol carries meaning only if we recognize it. A Christmas tree is a symbol of the Christian faith or it is a tree sacrificed in the tradition of the Druids.

A flag with stars and bars is the symbol of the proud history of the south or a representation of the failure of one race to impose its false superiority on another.

If you find something offensive, first make sure you understand why. Then work to foster a better understanding. Seek to educate not merely cover up.

Americans should be made of tougher stuff than to let symbols, words, or insignificant displays offend us.

Don’t take offense. Don’t whine and cry and whimper in weakness. Seek to understand that the most offensive symbol in the world represents the ignorance of those who promote it, not the power or truth of what is represents.

Grow a pair America. If this offends you, good. Do something.



Leave a Reply