Scrolling through Facebook this morning, trying to wake up before facing the minions in the living room, I came across a post from Helene, one of my former HS Language Arts teachers, and her outrage for a Randy Couture t-shirt sold at her local Gordmans.
Instead of complaining about the t-shirt just on her page, she thought it would be best to inform Gordmans of how offensive it is that they sell something that stands for such hate…she still hasn’t heard anything from Gordmans. MetaMedia News is currently reaching out to Gordmans, Randy Couture and Xtreme Couture Apparel, but has received no response as of yet.
I feel it necessary to outline the images that she and so many of her friends are upset about, and hope that Couture and Gordmans can see the distaste put into the garment and the message it’s selling. Thankfully, we have teachers like Helene who know their stuff! I learned more about the Holocaust in her Language Arts class than I did in any history class, so I know if it was worth her time, it was worth writing about.
To some, this image might seem harmless, but to those of us familiar with Nazi symbolism, it’s just disgusting. And it’s not just one poorly placed image, but several. This is, without a doubt, Nazi imagery. The position of the eagle, the iron cross, lightning bolts, even how the date “1993” has been purposely distressed to look like “1933”. All of these symbols fit into one t-shirt were no accident.
Let’s start with the Eagle. The Heraldic Eagle, which was and is still used in the German coat of arms, was altered and appointed by Hitler as the national emblem in 1935. It’s called the Reichsadler. The Reichsadler is shown here. Notice an open winged eagle with his head facing over its right shoulder, perched atop an oak wreath surrounding swastika.
Next, we have the “lightning bolts”. The lightning bolts are a common white supremacist/neo-nazi symbol derived from Schutzstaffel (a paramilitary organization ruled by Adolph Hitler). It was a symbol of victory and often referred to as the SS-Rune. Some argue that the lightning bolts are Couture paying homage to his time in the US Army as an air traffic controller, but as you can see, these bolts are 2-tiered, not 3-tiered.
Some might call it a stretch, but at first glance, I saw 1933 and not 1993. I don’t think the distressed treatment had been done in error. But why 1933, you might ask? January 30th of 1933 was when the president of Germany, Paul von Hindenburg, appointed Adolph Hitler as Chancellor of Germany.
I would also like to point out that, even though the Nazi flag was in red, black, and white; the shirt was red with black and gold print, which is, coincidentally, the colors of the German flag.
Lastly, we have the Nazi War Merit Cross, awarded to both soldiers and civilians as a decorating of Nazi Germany. It was reissued in 1957 by the Bundeswehr in a De-Nazified version for veterans. Not to be confused with the Iron Cross, which was a German army medal that the Nazis altered with a Swastika.
In fact, the swastika seems to be the only obvious symbol missing from this mess, as if that were the only symbol Americans remember about the Holocaust or WWII.
Helene also wrote that she’ll be submitting a report with the ADL (Anti-defamation League) on the terms of propoganda. The stated purpose of the ADL is to fight:
“anti-Semitism, and all forms of bigotry (in the US) and abroad, combat international terrorism, probe the roots of hatred, advocate before the US congress, come to the aid of victims of bigotry, develop educational programs, and serve as a public resource for government, media, law enforcement, and the public, all towards the goal of countering and reducing hatred”
Expect a follow-up if and when more information is made available.