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Post NAACP, "The Crisis," and Swastikas; from Gary Moore
Created by John Eipper on 08/28/17 3:27 AM

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NAACP, "The Crisis," and Swastikas; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA, 08/28/17 3:27 am)

Gary Moore writes:

Re John Eipper's broader look at the Nazi-style swastika: In the early twentieth century before the Nazis came along, the NAACP routinely used swastikas as margin decorations in its monthly magazine The Crisis. They were very busy working for an end to white supremacy: one more question about judging the fashions of the past by the fashions of the present.

Morality does seem to progress into increasing inclusiveness as the Info-World continues its inscrutable blossoming. But this leaves the dilemma of universal standards. As we leave behind the standards that tolerated human sacrifice or trial by combat, there are (to say the least) differing opinions about some universal standard by which to look back and judge the befuddled past. It's a trap to use the (probably transient) standards (or fashions?) of the befuddled present.

But this leaves what? The voice from the sky?

JE comments:   The Crisis was founded in 1910 by W. E. B. Du Bois.  The journal continues today as a quarterly.  I Googled "NAACP Crisis swastika cover" and came up with no corresponding images.  Gary Moore is WAISdom's authority on African-American history, and I presume he has seen many archival issues of the journal.  Please tell us moore, Gary:  why would none of the swastika covers be readily accessible on the 'Net?

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  • More Pre-WWII Swastikas; Salamanca's "Victor" Symbol (Jose Manuel de Prada, Spain 08/29/17 11:10 AM)
    Swastikas figured prominently in the cover and title page of all the volumes of Rudyard Kipling's collected works until, I guess, the eve of World War II.

    In this case it was, certainly, the Buddhist symbol, as I imagine it was the case for the NAACP magazine.

    It is indeed a huge problem when a more or less harmless symbol is given a more sinister meaning by a political movement.

    One example in Spain is the Victor / Vitor anagram you can see all over some buildings in Salamanca, referring to people who have successfully defended a doctoral thesis at the University.

    It was appropriated by the rebels after they won the Civil War, and many people still think it is a Francoist symbol, while it certainly it is not.

    JE comments:  The Salamanca "Víctor" sign (below) is so catchy that Franco copied it upon his victory in 1939.  A shame, really, as it contaminated a very cool symbol of academic achievement.

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  • NAACP's "The Crisis" and Swastikas; from Gary Moore (John Eipper, USA 08/29/17 1:52 PM)

    Gary Moore writes:

    In response to John E's question, here is a small example that I came across quickly,
    from The Crisis, June 1921, page 58.


    But what are the two
    book-end icons? At first glance they almost look like Torahs
    with a menorah motif, but there's a cross, so Bibles? Have
    I discussed the glimpse of Du Bois as a student in nineteenth-century Germany, spellbound in the drafty lecture room as Ranke
    or some other phenomenal genius was dissecting the world, and at one point making a sharp comment to the class about
    Africans being inferior--and supposedly knowing they are?  Du Bois was so enthralled by the outpowering of knowledge
    otherwise that he scarcely even condemned the comment,
    almost brushing it off, and took back to the States the emblematic
    empire goatee that reminded him of classical erudition.

    What in the world do all those swastikas mean--and the other arcana?
    For one thing, they mean Du Bois was fascinated by the catacombs.

    JE comments:  Thank you, Gary!  There are more swastikas on p. 60.  They function as snazzy dividers between articles, rather like asterisks today.  How about a far-fetched analogy?  Imagine the future horrors of the "Have a Nice Day" smiley-face, should a racist, genocidal regime ever adopt it as a symbol.

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