Nazi Thai Students

My back has been pretty achy the last couple of nights.  I have been sleeping pretty well considering, but still my back is quite sore when I wake.  I’ve been waking up at about 5am with the pain, then have taken a couple of acetaminophen to get me to 6.45am.  I have been taking celebrex at night before I sleep, so am surprised that it isn’t getting me through the night.

Maybe I’m just getting old! Ha.

As a Westerner living in Thailand one gets to see some interesting cultural exchanges. A common cultural clash is the use of the swastika.  The swastika is a very ancient symbol of goodness, strength and good luck.  It has (and still is) been used by many cultures and religions around the world for this purpose.  However the swastika was also chosen by the Nazi’s as their symbol, and for most people in the West this is what they relate it to.

If one visits the many Buddhist temples (Wat) in Thailand you will see this symbol in many places – since it is over 3,000 years old.  I have also seen it in temples in China, Cambodia, Hong Kong and Taiwan.  The swastika was used in temples thousands of years before the Nazi’s used it for their flag.

So for Thai people (and Asians generally), the swastika is a religious symbol.  If you ask them about the Nazis the vast majority will have no idea what you are talking about.  Added to this, recently Nazi “fashion” has become popular amongst the youth.  I have no idea why.  Perhaps it is because they see the use of the swastika in Nazi photos, or maybe it is because of the unusual way that the Nazi’s saluted?  However what is clear is that they have no idea at all that many Westerners will have extremely strong feelings of distaste for anything Nazi related, and will wish to not see it.

A classic example of this ignorance of the West’s distaste of Nazi paraphernalia happened at a school in northern Thailand.  You can read about it here.  Basically the students have a tradition of dressing up in something interesting for sports day, and on this occasion chose the Nazi uniform.  They were having fun – until the Westerners in the crowd went crazy.  I’m sure that many of the Thais still don’t know what the fuss is all about.

I have to wonder about the ‘political correctness’ of it all.  Sure what the Nazis did during the war was absolutely horrible, however should we demand that Asians who had nothing to do with this piece of history be punished for making some humor out of it?  Consider a group of Westerners dressing up in say, British colonial army uniform.  Chinese will feel highly offended at such a sight, reminding them of the destruction and pillaging of the summer palace, with an estimated 300 Chinese people being locked in and burned to death.  If a group of Chinese protested at the wearing of the colonial army uniform at a function in the West, would it get the same reaction?  Of course it wouldn’t.  However Chinese people would not make such a protest, knowing that the Westerners were likely ignorant of the symbolism.  Why can’t Westerners be as intelligent and ‘peace making’?

Let’s get out some other topics that show double standards.  How many programs have I seen with the stereotype of the Asian “mail order bride” as some kind of reformed sex worker, who has come to the West?  Do Westerners get up in arms over making fun out of this when thousands of Asian woman are kidnapped and trafficked across borders against their wishes?  Nope.

Asians don’t demand that Westerners understand their history and be sensitive to it.  So why can’t Westerners also be as forgiving to Asians who don’t know the history of Nazi Germany?  Should we ‘demand’ that they learn Western history?  Hmmmmm.  No, of course not.

The World is much bigger than the West.  I look forward to the day when the West does not presume that it is “King” and that the rest of the world should bow down to its ‘superior’ values and beliefs.  Shit sometimes happens.  Get over it and move on to focus on having fun and enjoyment.  And if it just so happens that you are in a situation where an event or action triggers something in you to make you unhappy, don’t bring everyone else down.  You are the one with the problem – so just quietly withdraw and deal with YOUR issues.

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