Lately the SCA has been embroiled in a great big kerfluffle over the design that one of our new kings had (commissioned) for trim on his royal garments to be worn at his coronation. The hand-woven design had a repeating element that for sure to a legion of casual observers looked like a swastika.
An uproar ensued and a half-assed non-apology was issued. The uproar escalated and a better, but still disingenuous sounding apology was issued. The uproar failed to diminish, and the royal couple abdicated their throne.
And still people are trying to defend this choice. By way of background, I came to learn that both members of this couple have been warned, long before this, that a persistent choice of wearing iconography that "happen to look like swastikas" was not a good choice to make in a Society that while "ranked" had an egalitarian membership policy.
I get it. On the one hand, the designs allegedly have a pedigree that makes them "authentic" to our period and the geography of their personae. "Do we really want to police our members' wardrobe choices and censor the work of our Artisans?" On the other hand, the iconography was used by one of the most successful genocides of the mid-twentieth century. And THAT'S where the one hand loses. The end.
Because actually, I DON'T get it. All over the SCA's literature and forward facing publicity, we attempt to portray ourselves as an egalitarian organisation where *any*body can join, and *any* body can achieve recognition, rank and acclaim by their deeds, whether that's diligent work and research, excellence in period arts and crafts, service to others, or prowess in our strenuous and demanding martial pursuits. ANYbody. But there's sometimes a twisted reality that rears its ugly head and sometimes that is at DIRECT odds with the Courtesy, the Chivalry, the Nobility of our aspirations. And one of the chief manifestations of this ugliness comes up where someone acts as if being ugly to people and doing ugly things to people warrants a pass, if those acts are in the service of historical authenticity in some way.
So, no- I DON'T get it. Multiple times these folks have been called on repeatedly utilising iconography that was a badge for what epitiomises the Ugliness and Evil that humans can perpetrate on each other, and (as in that first disingenuous apology) the excuse is that they just didn't *know* how awful people would think that was?
But no- it's okay, because it's AUTHENTIC and those naughty naughty Nazis STOLE the image and CORRUPTED it.
"Authentic" doesn't make doing this right.
Because, what about Courtesy?
What about Chivalry?
What about Nobility?
What about some fucking compassion for your fellow humans?
It is NOT more important to be CORRECT than it is to do the RIGHT DAMN THING. Not in a Society that prizes praises and elevates the highest aspirations of Humanity. It is not courteous, chivalrous, or anything resembling noble to trot this out in the faces of people who may remember (even first hand!) the horrors of those who marched under this symbol.
But there are people defending this choice. Sonya read me a choice defense of this choice from a high ranking SCAdian in Texas. I'm paraphrasing this from memory, but the choice words, I remember:
"...anyone who is offended by this needs to be tree-danced "
Tree-danced, for those unfortunate enough to miss that episode of Early-mid 20th Century Shenanigans Of The South- is lynching; hanging. From a tree. A thing done to uppity dark skinned minorities and their sympathisers. Oh, and people of Jewish faith. It was perpetrated by our own home grown version of Nazis, the KKK. So this person, of high rank in the Texas SCA declared that people who might be "offended" by something that looks like Nazi iconography should be lynched and hanged. Black People, Jewish people, and their sympathisers should be HANGED. Hmmm....
THIS is the Apex of the Ugliness I speak of when I say that some act as if being "correct" should get one a pass for being Ugly. These are the allies and sympathisers of the people who made this choice. I don't know if they are actually friends, but you know what? I wouldn't be surprised to learn that they are. Betcha a dollar they are. The SCA is big, but in many ways it's also a small town.
"...those who are offended should be tree-danced." The Courtesy, the Chivalry, and the Nobility of that statement somehow tells me all I need to know about this controversy and whether we should take someone to task for their wardrobe choices or art.