Clothing Company Faces Unsurprising Pushback for Rainbow-Swastika Designs
A small European clothing-design company called KA Designs is facing predictable pushback as a result of its design of clothes consistent with its mission to repurpose the swastika symbol.
Text in a Facebook video (accompanied by baroque music) by KA Designs about the subject mentions, among other things, that the swastika “is 5000 years old,” “it’s a symbol of Love,” “it’s a symbol of Life,” etc. The short video then criticizes German National Socialists for rotating the symbol by 45 degrees and turning it into “Hatred”, “Fear”, “War”, “Racism” and “Power.” Subsequently, the video proclaims that “the Swastika is coming back together with Peace together with Love together with Respect together with Freedom…” before introducing its clothing line.
According to KA Designs, in an interview with Dazed:
There is not a right time to reclaim the Swastika, or anything in general. Here at KA Design we think freedom is the most fundamental value to build our life upon. We could have made the decision to, as you say, “reclaim” the Swastika 10 years from now or 10 years ago. Or even the day after the fall of Nazism. We really like the symbol in its shape and aesthetics, and we would love to share the beauty of this symbol detached from the Hatred associated with it. This project only represents the first step of our “master plan”, and we are excited about what the future will give us. …
… There is nothing new in the designs we have created. At the same time, they’re totally innovative and original. The originality of the designs is caused by the unexpected association of meanings. People have never seen the colours from the peace flag (or from the LGBT community) and a Swastika (especially the one rotated by 45° used by Nazis) together. The final result is eye-catching and it is the cause of our campaign going viral.
Not that the company is 100% factually incorrect. As the Jerusalem Post writes: “Before being used by the Nazi regime, swastikas were commonly known as an ancient sign used by Hindus and Buddhists carrying positive associations such as auspiciousness and good fortune.”
Predictably enough, there has been pushback against the clothing line.
According to the Jerusalem Post:
In a Facebook post on Sunday, Executive Director of the Israeli-Jewish Congress Arsen Ostrovsky said it was “obscene and disgusting” that Teespring were “seeking to profit of this in the name of art, trying to turn this irredeemable Nazi symbol of hate and murder, into a symbol of ‘love and peace’.”
“This is not only highly naïve, but grossly offensive,” he later told The Jerusalem Post. “What’s next, using ISIS symbol to promote gender equality?”
Additionally, according to Out.com, there has been LGBTQ-related pushback as well:
“I am outraged and shocked that any company would seek to profit from selling such reprehensible items,” Dr. Dvir Abramovich, the chair of the Anti-Defamation Commission in Australia told Pink News. “The swastika does not represent the LGBTI community, whose members were the victims of Hitler’s evil regime. And no, it cannot be rebranded as a symbol of peace. KA’s naïve, and in many ways, selfish attitude shows a staggering lack of concern for the feelings of those who survived the Holocaust and those who lost relatives to the monstrous deeds of the Third Reich.”
The shirts were available at the Teespring website, but no longer are. According to CBS News, “Teespring said it is adding layers of oversight to prevent people from offering offensive designs for sale. The company allows anyone to post a T-shirt design, and if it sells Teespring will produce it.”
For what it’s worth, Teepublic (which is not associated with Teespring) contines to offer “LIMITED EDITION” “Saudi Arabia Rainbow Flag” tee-shirts.