There are many things that represent terror in history. When you see the Confederate flag, you are automatically brought back to the times of the racism that took place early in America’s history.
Or, when you think about a swastika you start to feel the sorrow for all those who suffered under Adolf Hitler’s terror.
But can these symbols be transformed into something different to those who view it? Some people think that these symbols could hold a positive light as pieces of art.
Someone who looks at the Confederate flag without knowing the surrounding history could think it’s actually a pretty artistic flag.
Artist André LeRoy Davis, in a piece in EBONY, critiques those who use Confederate flags in their works, most notably Kanye West. In an installation titled “Who Failed Black History Month Awards Nominees,” Davis calls out other pop stars like Rick Ross and Nicki Minaj.
Similarly, the swastika is a play on a Hindu symbol that once meant peace. In an article on BBC One, we learn that, “For the almost one billion Hindus around the world, the swastika lies at the heart of religious practices and beliefs, as an emblem of benevolence, luck and good fortune.“
Even though there are many counterexamples in history, history’s standpoint is often too powerful. People will probably never overlook the symbols that go with history’s worst times.
History, and the people who create it, has a way of twisting something strangely beautiful into something demented. Because these symbols are associated with such sorrow, people will probably never overlook the memories that lie with them. The worst history that comes with such symbols is the people who suffered.
Is it wrong to have a Confederate flag in your house because you think it’s a “pretty” work of art? No, absolutely not. But you will offend a lot of people. A symbol that has terrible history behind it will probably never be changed into something positive.
When history is so strong and so terrible, there is never really a positive outlook that could come out of it. No matter how many times you try to defend it, it once represented a dark part in history.
Symbols are considered to be symbolic for a reason. They represent a certain time or event correlated with time. Time preserves the original meaning more than most “artists” would think.
Some symbols will always hold a negative connotation to them whether it be that people want to change it or not. Bottom line is that symbols which were once considered art can be changed in a matter of seconds into something negative, and they can never be changed back.
People will always hold an obscure view of things that the majority of the population knows as bad.
The symbols of terror, racism and anything that has a terrible history behind it will haunt those who supported it and will continue to haunt those that try to change it.
If I were you, I’d leave those symbols alone. Some things are not meant to be changed. Some things cannot be changed.
History has already been written and the symbols that go along with it are a part of something that is engraved forever as symbols of terror.
Reach the columnist at Tishni.Weerasinghe@asu.edu or follow her on Twitter @TishniW
Editor’s note: The opinion presented in this column is the author’s and does not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.