The Importance of Symbols

A guy holding a child wearing a storm trooper helmet with a swastika on it.

A number of people who ride motorcycles in Taunggyi sport Nazi swastikas or the Nazi eagle on their stormtrooper helmets.

I remember reading an issue of Neil Gaiman's "The Sandman" graphic novel ten or more years ago, in which the character Death (a young goth woman) is spending her one day in one hundred years as a mortal. And on this day, a man steals her ankh necklace thinking it will give him magical abilities. Death's companion is shocked at how unconcerned she is at the loss of her ankh, but Death says "it's just a symbol." A little while later she buys an ankh at a vendor table for $10, commenting that "symbols have great power." Obviously it struck home with me, as I've remembered it ever since. The swastika is "just" a symbol, but it's also one that still makes many, many people very uncomfortable. I think the people who wear these stickers have very little sense of history.