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Symbolism

I had a very disturbing incident happen this weekend. If I take any lesson from it, it's that we should never try to shield our children from the uglier things in life, because they must have the ability to recognize such things as being ugly. Saturday morning, DJ was busy at the computer, working on his Neopets Guild layout. If you don't know how to make such a layout, there are other Neopets users who will share their code with you, and all you have to do is change a few lines here and there to substitute your words for therirs. Basically, they are lending you their design. So DJ, having experienced too much frustration in trying to make his own layout, decided to ask one of his Neopet buddies for a layout. The buddy (known only through AIM and Neopets) happily agrees and sends DJ the needed code. About twenty minutes after DJ plugs the code for the new design into his layout, he comes into the living room where I am sitting, looking very disturbed. "Mom, some guy just IMd me and said that I have to take my layout down because he's Jewish and it offends him." "What's on your layout?" "A cross." Well, that doesn't seem right to me. So I tell DJ to tell the person that he doesn't have to join the guild if he doesn't like DJ's use of a religious symbol. DJ does that. He comes back five minutes later, tears in his eyes. "Mom, the kid says he's going to report me if I don't take it down. I don't understand!" So I get up and go into the kitchen, where DJ's computer is. I ask him to show me the layout. He does. I can actually feel my face turn white. There, on DJ's layout, is on Iron Cross with a swastika embedded on it. I think I panicked. "Take it down. Right now. Down. Take. It. Down." DJ looks both confused and scared. He immediately erases the entire code, sensing my alarm. "What is it, mom?" "You don't know what a swastika is?" "A what?" "A swastika?" "No, I don't know! I swear, I don't know if it's bad or not, I just wanted to use it 'cause the red and black matched the rest of my guild!" He's starting to cry now. I briefly explain to him what the swastika represents. He is well aware of the Holocaust and of Hitler, but for some reason, the swastika was never brought up during history lessons at school. Meanwhile, the other kid is IMing him at frantic pace, telling him that he's going to get DJ's Neopets account taken away and that if DJ doesn't take the picture down, it's a hate crime. I get on AIM and start talking to the kid, who seems to be older than DJ, maybe in his early teens. I explain that DJ had no idea what the swastika represented, that he's very sorry. The kid relents a little, but I can tell he's still mad. The kid's father gets on AIM and tells me that they immigrated here from Israel about ten years ago. I exlpain over again about DJ's ignorance of the symbol, and I feel horrible that my son did not know. He should have known. The father is very understanding, very nice. He checks and sees that DJ has taken the offending graphic down and assures me that he will not report my son to Neopets. Then we both realize that the person who sent DJ this graphic not only has it on his own guild, but stores the image on Neopets. The father agrees to be the one to report the kid to Neopets. That part of the ordeal over, I approach DJ, who is now in his room, still crying. He feels so guilty that he upset this kid and his father, and very guilty that he had that symbol of hate on his site. Was it my duty to teach him what a swastika is? I just assumed that they would go over these things in class as part of history. After all, history is filled with probably more bad things than good. It's not like you sit the kids around the table one night and say, well, now that we've told you about date rape and dirty syringes, we'll show the hate symbols of the past. How do you bring this stuff up out of nowhere? At least in schools, they would teach it in the context of a history lesson, which I just assumed was happening. Even when we did talk about Hitler or the Holocaust at home, I never bothered showing him a swastika I felt that he just didn't need to know about it. How wrong I was. Knowledge is power. Had DJ been able to recognize the symbol when he first saw it, he would have never put it on his site and he would have reported the kid who sent it to him right away. I wonder how many other things I've not bothered to tell my kids about will end up costing them in the future? I certainly can't depend on the public school system to teach them everything; that's apparent by the textbooks they bring home each year. History has been whitewashed. Well, lesson learned, I suppose. The hard way, of course, but not many lessons are learned the easy way.

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Comments

Maybe you could watch some History Channel together.

How old is DJ? I don't remember ever learning about the nazi's use of the swastika in school, but from old LIFE magazine photos and books. I'm not sure when they would bring that up in history class.

I don't know anything about the schools where you are, but down here, we don't count on public schools to teach kids anything. They're just big, government-run daycare centers (and leftwing indoctrination camps). If you have any notions of your kids actually being educated, productive citizens, you must either homeschool or send them to private schools.

That sucks, and I feel bad for your kid--this seems like an honest mistake. But forgive me for pointing out that the other kid and his Dad might have a bit of a point, at least one which might explain their vicious, aggresive behavior.

Having said that, do you get the History Channel on your local cable system? If so, do you ever watch it?

Also known as The Hitler Channel ("All Adolph, all the time"), due to the fact that, for a time at least, most of its' programming consisted of World War 2 documentaries, and probably half of the footage consisted of vehicles of various types zooming all about with swastikas painted on them. It is my opinion that the swastika might be one of the most recognizable symbols of our times.

I hope everybody concerned recovers from this unpleasantness.

DJ learned a hard lesson but a good one. This one will
stick for a very long time.

IMHO, there's no hard and fast answer to this question:
(i.e. what to bring up and at what age.)

If DJ is an avid reader get him reading good first
person stories about history. Questions will follow
which serve as segways into serious discussions.

You won't find them at any school. History texts are useless.
They are so unpalatable and value neutral they would turn
anyone off of history. I'd recommend some browsing in
a children's section in Barnes and Noble. Don't go too
high brow on him. I loved stories of battles and heroism
which ultimately honed my curiousity about larger things.

Some people think there is a deeper meaning to my removal of the S.O.D. from my profile on ATS.

Nah. I just wanted the kitty cat and the ball.

the Cartoon History of the Universe is a great overview of history, btw.

Ah, I see there is a volume III out that I will have to buy. I can't recommend the series highly enough.

"we should never try to shield our children from the uglier things in life, because they must have the ability to recognize such things as being ugly." is a keeper, btw.

Homeschooling. It's the only way to go.

Michele, I have a 10 year old and a 12 year old both in public school. They don't teach them jack shit about history or world events. I am surprised at the things that my kids are being taught but history? The holocaust? I had to teach them. I had to explain it. They spent one classroom period talking about the holocaust. Mark new the numbers, how many had died. But the teacher failed to teach them the whys. There was no explanation of what happened and why or how or even how it ended. Just facts and figures. Very blunt here ya go kid, now you know.
What happened to Dj this morning is not his fault or yours and you didn't over react.
I have had this kind of thing happen on Neopets too. There are adults who use Neopets to talk to our kids. Good, bad, friendly, and as you found out this morning, haters and sickos.
That person who sent Dj the code was more than likely not a kid but an adult posing as one.

P.S. It keeps telling me that my email address is questionable content. msyinglemomlife@ is fine but my ISP is questionable. Did you blacklist everyone at msn?

Kat - I fixed that. I must have banned msn when I was despamming.

Some adults have a really hard time with context, expectation of non-ignorance, presumption of guilt, and age-appropriate behavior. And teach their children those behaviors.

Freedom of speech means people get to say lots of disgusting things that their minds think of, and even children have it.

But because they imagine hate thought, does not meant that it's there.

Stuff like this is gonna happen. Kids learn by making mistakes. It sounds like the Jewish dad was very nice and reasonable about it. He understood that kids make mistakes, and so it goes.

Poor guy. That was rough. You handled it really well I think. I'm afraid most of us don't consider when it's time to talk to our kids about swastikas.

It's all age-context sensitive, and you as the parent are best suited to decide what your kid is mature enough to handle.

Last time I remember this dilemma, my eldest daughter wanted to watch Schindler's List. She was 15.

I was very anxious about it, decided the best thing to do was watch it with her, and answer questions. It was a tough night, however it was a moment I can point back to in our relationship where I began to see how things will change as she becomes an adult. We talk a lot.

Yeah, we watch the History Channel all the time and talk about historical stuff all the time at home. I don't think my 10-mo-old baby is getting much out of the discussions now, but it's not like we're going to stop talking about it when she's 10 years old.

Humorless people like Fritz who want to ban anything that vaguely resembles a hate-symbol are a big part of the reason your kids didn't know.

As much as I hate to say it, I'm sure that most parents would bitch to the schoolboard if they opened their kid's textbook and found a picture of (real) nazi's in it.

I suppose your kids are too young to watch Band of Brothers - coming to the history channel.

My husband and I watch the History channel often. I suppose this would be a good time to have DJ start watching with us.

I don't think they are too young (11 and 14) for Band of Brothers.

Revisionist history - Bad things that upset people need to be erased from the histroy books so that no one gets offended.

The only problem is that when someone young comes along and hasn't been taught what happened and why, then all hell breaks loose.

Schools need to get to the point where they just teach facts. Parents need to teach right from wrong (with the help of their church if they are so inclined) and the children can take the facts they learn about things and the guidence they get from home (and or chruch) and then act accordingly.

No one is going to hold your hand forever and make sure that nothing bad ever gets exposed to you.

The kid that went off on DJ needs to tone down a bit and could have explained what was wrong rather than threatening him. That is the side that everyone forgets about - antagonizing someone until they retailiate and then being able to cloak themselves in a sheild of victimization, when in reality, most people (except those knowingly brandishing a stance, or in this case a symbol) would take it down once they realized the significance o fthe stnace or symbol.

More talk - less finger pointing. Tends to lead to a lot less violence.

Even if DJ knew what the swastika was, I'm not sure a 10/11 year old would naturally understand that somebody today would be offended by it. We as adults sometimes put a lot more meaning into symbols than we really should.

Given that the dad seems to have delt with this rationally, I sort of wonder where the kid got such a militant attitude? Hate crime is not something a 12/13 year old should have on the tip of his brain.

Gotta agree with Laura... homeschooling is best to be sure your child isn't 'programmed'.

Now if we can only get the NEA to stop their law suits...

Homeschooling is not really a choice - Besides the fact that I have to work full time, I really don't have the capacity to be able to take on such a task.

Chris - Neopets is a bizarre community. I'm reallly not surprised by anything that happens there. In fact, I told DJ to not bother using his Neopets account anymore. Good thing warm weather is getting here and they'll be outside all the time.

As a homeschooling parent, I would like to point out that homeschooling is not the answer to every childhood related problem. Who is to say that even if Michele was homeschooling it would have occured to her to make the connection betwen a swastika and hard feelings today? My homeschooled son is fascinated by war, and has read many WWII books. I know he is very familiar with the swastika, holocaust, etc. That said, I'm not sure it would occur to him that somebody today would get so bent out of shape over it. To a 10 year old boy, a swastika is just a red and black cross thingy, that happened to be used by Hitler. We could tell them never to draw one, but outside of the sort of indoctrination the other kid in this episode apaprently has, I don't think a kid would ever "get it."

And honestly, I'm not sure the other kid really gets it anyway.

Personally, I'd think we'd all be better off thinking that way.

There's a brouhaha over American Choppers, seems the logo is red and black and looks like the Maltese Cross.

And kids are wearing it.

I do agree, tho, that the child on the other side should have explained.

Maybe a suggestion to his father? The son had a perfect right to be upset, but he needs to let other people know why.

Wow, just, wow. I felt my stomach contracting when I read about what DJ and you went through, and I don't even have kids.

The good news: This (or similar) incidents will not happen again. DJ learned in probably the most effective (but a fairly painful) way that symbols and words can mean something very serious. I'm glad the dad was reasonable in the whole situation.

As for good/bad/homeschooling history teaching: I had good teachers in grade school BUT WWII (and actually, everything after 1900) was pretty much crammed into the last two days of school because we would always spend so much time on the Civil War. (I knew about Naziism and WWII mainly through older relatives and from watching old Bugs Bunny cartoons (seriously - before they bowdlerized them all there were some pretty strong WWII cartoons. Probably one of the dvd or VHS compilations would have them in their uncut glory on them).

It's sad, though, to have to live in a world where 10 year olds have to be taught all these things so they don't inadvertently hurt someone else...

What would your response have been if something DJ posted on his site deeply offended a Muslim immigrant? I'm afraid of the answer. You've probably already added LGF to his blogroll.

Ricki, Bugs Bunny and 2 vet grandfathers introduced me to WWII history too. But I don't think DJ or any child needs to learn these things just to avoid hurting someone's feelings. One he learns what these symbols mean, he will probably not use them on his own.

That was cute, Angela.

Not that I owe you an answer for that snide remark, but I would have been just as appalled.

Ass.

This is a great post on the education system and the need for parents to be monitoring what their kids do.

Sounds like the kid that went off on DJ had been taught his history, and knew to confront hatred when he saw it. The fact that DJ got caught in the middle is the problem.

"I'm afraid of the answer."

Pretty much sums up the mentality of Angela and her ilk.

What a bi-atch.

I never meant to imply to homeschooling is the be all and end all of all problems (thus the hazards of rapid commenting, one I will endeavor to avoid).

When speaking of the problems of the public school system, homeschooling is definite option that can help (when it is feasible for the student and family). Another alternative is private school, which would be helped by education vouchers.

These issues, I realize, are too broad to debate further in this comment area, so this will be my last word here on that topic.

What do you expect when you have thousands of people comparing our President to Hitler? With such a deluded sense of real history it is not surprising if DJ was taught instead that the Presidential Seal was the true symbol of hatred. I am very sorry your kid had to experience this.

Bless his heart! Happens to all of us, though, that we use some expression or symbol that we didn't realize was offensive. I had to have my then 16 yo son explain to me what a Pink Taco was; I couldn't figure out why his indoor soccer team was snickering over the name of the other team. He's 22 and still has to explain to me on occasion why I probably don't want to be singing the lyrics to some song ... geez!

I just asked my son, btw, where he first learned what the swastika stood for ... he informs me it was from playing Wolfenstein. The sum total of his exposure to the Holocaust during junior high was being subjected to The Diary of Anne Frank in english class, and that he can't be certain that they discussed the nazi symbols. This is definitely not a book to capture a boy's interest in the subject, so I'd imagine if they did cover it, he probably was staring out the window in a daze.

What a bi-atch.

Pretty much sums up the mentality of Willow and her ilk.

Sounds to me like this problem was handled reasonably and rationally by all the parties involved. It does raise the larger issue of how a free society should deal with intensely powerful images that represent evil deeds and intentions. I think our schools are the one place where images such as this should be presented, in their proper historical and social context.

It's wrong to allow the desire for political correctness and the desire to avoid dealing with difficult issues to lead us to conceal and distort history. It's important for everyone on the planet to know what that symbol stood (and in some cases still stands) for. Individual parents should not have veto rights over the subject matter that's taught in our schools. Of course any decent person finds that particular symbol horrifically offensive, but that shouldn't mean that it simply gets swept under the rug. Rather, all the more reason that its historical significance be explained to children, so that they understand what it means and why the rise of such a regime should never be allowed to happen again.

I believe that we need to make it more difficult for parents to sue our schools, while at the same time making it easier for them to find redress for unfair treatment of their children. School administrators are not a particularly courageous lot, on average, and they love to hide behind the threat of lawsuits as a justification for providing an overly homogenized product to our kids. No parent should have the right to sue a school system for the supposed psychological damage their child suffered from seeing a symbol like this in a textbook, thoroughly explained in its proper historical context.

You could start by renting some Indiana Jones movies . . . My dad is something of a WW2 buff (having been 9 years old when the war started), so I can't even remember when I learned to associate the swastika with the Nazis, but I can't have been more than 7 or 8 (it was hard to avoid Nazis on the 4:30 Movie).

But it's easier said than done - my kids (6 & 4)know plenty about Saddam, but Hitler and Stalin are still a long way off.

Wow, Michele....that could easily have happened to Anna. She belongs to that Neopets site, also.

She's in 8th grade, and it's the first year she's ever been taught World History - last year, they had U.S. History. Right now, they are studying Germany and WWII, and are reading The Diary of Anne Frank, and have watched several documentaries about her. It would never have occurred to me to bring up the subject of swatiskas before this, unless for some reason we saw one and she asked about it.

But you're right...in this age of graffiti and symbolism, maybe kids ought to introduced to what certain symbols do represent. I would think that 4th grade wouldn't be too early to start.

I don't think you are remiss in any way - as parents, we do our best to teach our children about different cultures in a manner that explains their history and differing viewpoints, while at the same time emphasizing that what makes us all different from each other doesn't make anyone better than the rest. We rely on schools to teach the historical facts and provide a framework of events that teach about the conflicts in our world, as well as the ways that nations have learned to overcome those conflicts.

The internet has made it possible for us to interact with others around the world in ways our parents never dreamed possible - this incident with DJ would never have happened without his participation in the Neopets forum, because his contact with others would have been direct and in person, and you would be aware of anyone he was talking with. It's one of the downfalls we have to face when we allow our kids on the computer - even in a forum we feel is safe, like Neopets - and because the possibility now exists that they will be exposed to people and ideas that we have not prepared them for, it falls to us to monitor them all the more carefully while online, and to try and anticipate the kinds of things they might encounter - like this scum handing out swatikas to innocent kids.

Aside from sitting next to them every second they are online, there's not much we can do to monitor what they see online, besides the usual parental blocks that are available (I use SBC Yahoo and their blocks are good). Hopefully, telling our kids that sometimes, despite our best efforts and without deliberate intent on their part, they will see things that aren't right - and anytime they do come across a picture or content that they don't understand, they need to ask us about it.

DJ learned several valuable lessons with this incident...not only about what the swatiska stands for, but how there are people in the world who will take advantage of kids, given the chance. Hopefully it will raise his guard and he'll make sure to check with you if anything happens in the future.

Weird thing is that the Swastika represented "Good Luck" before Hitler got a hold of it. Strange.

Japan also used it on some maps to mark places of worship.

Anyway, obviously, it only means one thing now. And hey, don't worry about it too much. First of all, it was an honest mistake and secondly you probably could have told your kid all about it, but it might be a better lesson learned this way. Who knows. Somethings work themselves out that way.

Yes, the History Channel is definitely a good place to find stuff on Nazis. Though I don't know if any of the documentaries on the death camps should be watched by children.

If DJ's school taught him about the Holocaust, Nazis, etc., but never showed him the swastika symbol, then that is definitely a mistake on the part of the school.

Melody - Well, at least your son learned about it from a game where you're supposed to fight the Nazis. That's a good exposure. :D

Peat - I think that's part of why the Nazi's adopted the symbol. Stealing legitimacy or something. Instead, they perverted it so now it means "evil" to many people. (There were also sun symbols that resembled the swastika used by ancient peoples in Europe, which IIRC the Nazis used to lay claim to territories because they found an artifact with a symbol that resembled the swastika so it was suddenly part of the Aryan homeland™ or some other bs.)

Well, 'nanny nanny boo boo" to you too, Angela, you post-and-run, no-contact-leaving troll.

For chrissakes, if you're going attempt a smackdown on someone, don't just parrot their words, it's so third grade and it's the quickest way to lose crediblity. Not that you had much to start with.

While I'm sure that Michele (and pretty much everyone here) would offer up the same defense and indignation on behalf of any such offended individual regardless of their race or religion, unless you've had your head jammed up your ass for the past few years I'm sure you're aware that there are some problems with some people, claiming to Muslims and carrying out the will of their god, blowing up little kids in buses, cafes, etc. Some of them even ran two airplanes full of terrified people in to both towers of the World Trade Center.

Yes it's true! Look it up! It might clarify things for you a bit.

But Victor Davis Hanson can anwer your implied meaning to Michele ("Hey we are being too nice to Jews!") better than I ever could. (http://www.victorhanson.com) It does have words in it that are well past the third-grade reading level, Angela, but I have faith in you. You can do it.

I don't understand how, for some people reading this story, that it went from an intelligent discussion of swastikas and kids on Neopets to calling people bitches.
What is wrong with some of you?
Can't you have intelligent discussions about world historic events and teaching our kids right from wrong and hate symbols without resorting to playground bullying and hate yourself?
Michele, I read your site every single day when ever I see that you have updated.
But I find myself becoming disgusted with peoples behavior.
Your posts are intelligent and well thought out and provoking and deserve the same kind of intelligent responses.
I have been avoiding commenting here sometimes because it just goes down so quickly on some posts. Starts off all good and interesting and then slides down into crappy name calling.
How are we supposed to teach our kids tolerance and how to discuss these issues in an intelligent manner if we can't treat each other with respect?

I don't find symbols offensive; they are what they are, whether they're patterns of ink on paper or flags dancing in the breeze or ... or colored pixels under glass.

There are BEHAVIORS that are offensive.

Attacking the former in the hope that they're the latter is itself one of those offensive behaviors, confounding the map and the territory.

Objecting to swastikas misses the point; it is the terrors waged by those who used that particular swastika that should be objected to, whether or not the old or new terrors are accompanied by swastikas.

Modern terorists have chosen new symbols, or no symbol, to conduct their current terrors. These behaviors should be objected to, even if they are not accompanied by swastikas.

Kat, I think you added a lot to this particular string with your thoughtful comments, but not everyone gets the same thing out of a conversation that you do or would steer the conversation in the same way.

Personally I find a comment such as the one made by Angela more offensive than invective language, even aimed directly at someone. I thought Michelle's response was perfect, even though she used a denigrating term to describe her. And though I don't feel the need to apologize for my own denigrating language, even though your comment was seemingly intended to shame me into that, I'll admit I would have redone my first statement to look a bit like my second simply because my first one wasn't that powerful. I guess that's what happens when you scratch off a response when heading out the door.

The fact is, this subject is one that is charged with emotion for a lot of reasons. And I don't think that a show of anger, even if there is invective language involved, takes away from it.

I understand what you are saying but I find that in conversations like this, using an invective is just as bad as walking around with a sign or an image that is offensive. Here we are talking about hate symbols and how to teach tolerance and you guys are calling each other bitches and asses. Instead of making you sound intelligent or even emotionally charged, it comes off as stupid. You can be emotionally charged and still be intelligent and coherent.
I'm not pointing this directly at you nor am I trying to shame you. This message wasn't even written to you. I am known far and wide for my use of curse words believe me but this is how a lot of people behave around here. It just seems so stupid because you are all trying to make your points but you lose credibility when start calling people names.
"And I don't think that a show of anger, even if there is invective language involved, takes away from it."
But that is how the cycle of hate keeps going. You don't solve social problems by using words of hate or insults.
But Willow, my statement was more my own observation and simply a throwing of my hands in the air because this is the course for so many topics here. I don't fault Michele at all for defending herself against Angela, afterall, this is her blog but then so many of Micheles supporters start throwing names around as if that makes it all better.

Thanks for the warning about neopets. I have an 8 year old girl and 4 year old boy who love to play the games and feed their pets ect. I dont let her post to the boards but was considering it. Your poor kid, the white face look really brought it home. Is it a service to shelter them from the horrific or is it better to let them have the nightmares and thicker skin? It's such an ugly world. Whenever there's a terrorist bombing, my son has nightmares everytime, he's four. He was two at 9/11, when he saw the first plane flying after a few weeks, he said: "Plane!....where's the fire?"

Oh man. Give DJ a great big hug from me. That sucks.

I don't remember when I learned about swastikas. I want to say the parental units explained it at some point, but I don't really remember.

Does anyone else remember an Olympics of something similar having a live/beauty shot of a temple of some sort (I think in Japan or China) that had a swastika on the top of it. I remember the announcers talking about it and how it didn't mean the same thing there. It was really interesting.

Michele,

that really sucks what happened to DJ. Still, I recall being 8 years old and knowing what a swastika was. How? I'm surprised you don't know the answer: comic books! Back in the day, there were plenty of comics that centered around World War II themes, either superman battling the nazis or the gore-zines that had American corpses coming back to life to torment nazi fighter pilots (or vice versa). Or Captain America, for that matter. There was a Sgt. Someone-or-other comic book that I remember reading quite a bit, too.

Anyway, as best I recall, that's the way I got my first exposure to the swastika, and the rising sun. You might try some comics with DJ.

I remember being a very young kid, drawing swastikas on a piece of paper. I don't remember where I'd originally saw them and had no idea at the time what it meant, I just thought it was a neat looking symbol. I left the piece of paper lying around the house somewhere and my dad found it, had a few words with me.

This was well over 20 years ago, and I can easily imagine myself making a similar "mistake" in an online world (vs the pencil/paper one).

Don't beat yourself up or question yourself over it.

Wait ... reread your post. Was it a swastika, or an iron cross that he posted? They aren't the same thing. In fact, I think that the German military still uses the iron cross symbol on medals, but without the swastika, of course. It's the swastika specifically that the symbol of the Nazi party.

Here's an interesting article relating to a controversy over the iron cross, and it has links giving the history of the symbol.

http://www.reviewjournal.com/lvrj_home/2003/Sep-09-Tue-2003/news/22115490.html

Poor lad, hope he comes out of this with something positive. Knowing a bit more about history, if nothing else.
One good rule of thumb with symbology from the National Socialist era is to look at what the German government allows. They have very strict laws on public display of specifically Nazi symbols. The swastika is forbidden; the Iron Cross and the Maltese cross are not. Indeed, the Maltese cross is still one of the emblems of the Luftwaffe.
However, the Iron Cross as used in Monster Garage's shirts and so forth is a bit iffy. Fritz's concept is that it is a hate symbol, not so much for its Nazi associations, as by its use by neo-Nazis/bikers here in North America.

The Maltese Cross is also the international symbol for firefighters. I intend to have one indelibly inked on my skin the day I graduate the academy.

Let's eliminate symbols that include the confederate flag as well. Many of us find that one equally offensive.

I think the fact that DJ was so clearly upset by another kid being upset says all I need to know about the situation.

Tough times being a kid nowadays, almost as bad as being a parent.

I kind of started a flame war on the Iron Cross a few weeks back (sorry - sorta) but I'm thinking that if West Coast Choppers really popularizes the iron cross look, it takes away any neo-nazi symbology it may have had and it becomes a nothing more than a cool logo.

Sandy P. You need to get your shows straight. American Choppers is set in Orange County New York, and the company name is Orange County Choppers, and their logo is a stylized motorcycle formed out of the OCC characters

The Iron Cross/West Coast Choppers controversy is from Monster Garage, because the host of Monster Garage is also the proprietor of WCC.