Someone At The Harvard Crimson Must Be Reading Catallarchy

From today's Harvard Crimson, "Why Not the Hammer and Sickle?"

However, outrage at Nazism, while justified and warranted, is not exactly breaking news or intellectually compelling discussion; Nazism has been so thoroughly debunked that it is no longer an ideology to be taken seriously. What would have happened, though, if Harry had not sported the swastika but opted for the hammer and the sickle instead? Would the public outcry have been as vocal and immediate, and as monolithically damning, if Harry had worn a Soviet instead of Nazi uniform? No, it most certainly would not have been. In our society communist paraphernalia is considered to be humorous or ironic; it is almost never viewed with the outright revulsion we reserve for the Nazis.

Echoes of a Monstrous Double Standard.

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Naziism was weak, one of the

Naziism was weak, one of the rare ideologies so weak that it could be defeated by force of arms. Revulsion is a fine way to address an ideology of that sort -- revulsion is a right thing to feel toward those whom history made it necessary to slaughter across Europe and back.

Stalinism was not weak; it could not be defeated by force of arms, nor will it ever be. Revulsion would be beside the point: Stalinism must be addressed as an idea, not as a personality or a force as we address Naziism. Irony, mockery, the rendering of grand ideas into a ludicrous farce, is a more effective weapon when it is ideas rather than people who must be killed.

I have a living-room full of Soviet propaganda posters. They are, literally, absurd and ridiculous: Outside of their natural context they are objects of humor, whiskey-priest tirades of self-righteous sanctimony. Revulsion and machine-guns are not what is defeating Stalinism; they are ineffective and inappropriate tools. Our ability to look at this mock-utopian pomp and laugh is what will seal Uncle Joe in his grave.

We shudder when we see a swastika; we laugh when we see the hammer and sickle. Different weapons for different foes.

That's an interesting

That's an interesting explanation, Grant, and I don't object to those who use Communist symbols as a form of mockery. But this raises further questions: Why is it that mockery of Nazi symbols is considered taboo? Take The Producers, for instance. Many were offended by the original film and the later Broadway version, even though it is clear that Brooks' intent was not to praise or excuse Hitler, but to make fun of him. It is considered bad taste to use humor to address the Holocaust, even if that humor casts Nazism in a negative light.

College students who have pictures of Che on their t-shirts or as posters on their wall do not do so out of some sense of irony or humor. They do so because they have been misled to believe that his cause is a cause of justice.