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bullet  Peace Sign

In the 3 December 2006 issue I led with this story:

Peace On Earth

Lisa Jensen hung a Christmas wreath on the outside wall of her home in Pagosa Springs, Colo. The pine boughs were arranged into a peace sign because she "wanted to put a message of peace out there," Jensen said. But Bob Kearns, the president of her homeowner's association, ordered her to remove the wreath on the grounds that "signs, billboards or advertising structures of any kind" are banned, and subject to a $25-per-day fine. The HOA's entire architectural control committee resigned in protest, and Jensen refused to remove the wreath. "The peace sign has a lot of negativity associated with it," Kearns claimed. "It's also an anti-Christ sign. That's how it started," he said, calling the peace sign "Satanic". After a local -- and national -- outcry, Kearns backed off. He apologized and said the wreath could stay. (Durango Herald) ...Chalking up another win for that darned peace-loving Satan.

There was, of course, reader reaction, virtually all of it readers finding it hard to believe there are such nutballs out there. But....

Every time you have a nutball like the HOA president going off the deep end in a spectacularly public fashion, there's some other nutball out there to defend him. But first, an example of the majority opinion:

If [HOA president] Kearns actually knew anything about the development of the peace sign, he'd know that far from being 'an upside-down, broken-armed cross' (whatever THAT is supposed to be), the peace sign originally stood for [The campaign for] Nuclear Disarmament, representing the semaphore flag signal positions for 'N' (straight up and down) and 'D' (left and right 45-degree down) superimposed together. Leave it to the Brits to reference something no one in America understands, and American Christians are just sure is 'satanic.' --Dex in California

Certainly someone from the military would get the "N.D." bit, right? But here's one from a veteran of the Vietnam war:

Maybe you are too young to remember, but the so-called 'peace' sign which you apparently support, was the symbol of draft-dodgers and hippies of the '60s, protesting our part in the [Vietnam] war mainly because they were too cowardly to participate, just as they considered themselves too good to be a functioning and productive part of society. They thought it made them wiser than everyone else to sit around fogging their minds with pot and LSD. The same thing is happening now with the Iraq invasion protestors. How quickly they forget that 3,000 Americans were killed in less than an hour in 1991, in an unprovoked attack on our own homeland. The links between that and our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq are undeniable if someone really wants to look at it. All civil people want peace, but the aggressors of this world will always make that an impossible dream. If we fail to act against them, they will certainly continue to act against us, with more and more boldness and power. The 'peace' sign's anti-Christian intent is obvious; why else would it be a broken cross, as the cross is the symbol of Jesus and nothing else that I know of? How can we celebrate His birthday by displaying an anti-Christ symbol? Satan is a deceiver, and he is certainly deceiving people like that ignorant woman -- and you. --Johnnie in Alabama

Wow: ignorant indeed! Where do I begin? Yes, I'm old enough to remember the peaceniks of the 60s, and despite my tender age I knew even then that the "peace sign" was derived from the semaphore signals for N and D -- and what that stood for. (I'm also old enough to remember why that was a big deal, as we had "duck and cover" drills in school, which was somehow supposed to help us all survive attacks by nuclear weapons.) No, we haven't forgotten that, just as we haven't forgotten the (ahem!) 2001 attacks in New York, Washington D.C., and Pennsylvania (or the Beirut Marine barracks, or the USS Cole, or....)

Think of them how you wish, but the hippies were essentially right about Vietnam. The lesson this country supposedly learned from that conflict was to not engage in war unless our national security was at risk, and now we have a bipartisan committee agreeing with the vast majority of the population -- that invading Iraq was a spectacularly bad idea (to bring it back to the story at hand). To lump them all together as draft-dodging anti-social druggies is to massively miss the point -- you're not really arguing that James Baker is some sort of acid-tripping commie, right?

So the hippies adopted a symbol begging for peace to ...yes... also beg for peace; so what? That doesn't degrade the symbol's meaning or intent, which is well documented. There is nothing "satanic" about the peace symbol, and there never has been. There are only two classes of people who think so: extremely gullible fools and manipulative, paranoid fundamentalists who have the ears of extremely gullible fools. And gee: wasn't it manipulative, paranoid fundamentalists who started this whole Islamic terrorist thing in the first place?

Read just one well-researched explanation of the origin of the peace symbol, right down to who it was that designed it, and when.

- - -

Sure enough, "Johnnie in Alabama" offered no response.

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47 Comments on This Entry

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Posted by Jeff on December 12, 2006:

"Think of them how you wish, but the hippies were essentially right about Vietnam."???

Which part? The hundreds of thousands of dead Vietnamese from re-education camps? The millions of Boat People? The complete loss of credibility as the Democrats refused to fund the "return if we need to" that we promised when we left in '73? The toppling of surrounding countries to totalitarian governments?

Point at the part the hippies got right.

How did we get from "bare any burden" to "my personal safety at any cost"?

Posted by RicHARD Makepeace on December 12, 2006:

M&Ms has an ad campaign that will supply you with personalized M&Ms for Christmas.

While applying at the online store to have my fairly expensive M&Ms say "MakePeace" on them, since Makepeace is my last name an error message came on screen that read:

"Sorry we can not print potentially offensive or inappropriate messages. Please enter a different message or call 1-888-696-6788 for further assistance."

When I called the helpline, the operator was not able to bypass the lockout and had to get a supervisor. The only way the supervisor could work out to use my name was by adding an exclamation point to the end and making it two words: "Make Peace!" I now have M&Ms exclaiming my name.

Posted by michelle, Arizona on December 12, 2006:

I am a Vietnam veteran, and a retired Chief Warrant Officer, US Army. I was a firm supporter of our involvement in Vietnam, and believed in what was called "The Domino Theory". I actually volunteered to serve over there.

I was wrong. I didn't realize that we were wrong until I saw the parallels between Vietnam and Iraq. The anti-war protesters, demonstrators, draft dodgers, and the like were right. I have the utmost respect for them. They followed their consciences; they were just as brave as any soldier on the front lines.

The ones I do not have any respect for are the "chicken hawks" who supported the war, but managed to avoid military service and/or combat duty. I won't mention any names, but this site will give a fairly complete listing.

Posted by Devin on December 12, 2006:

"All civil people want peace, but the aggressors of this world will always make that an impossible dream."

I completely agree. George W. Bush has certainly done his part to make peace an impossible dream.

It seems to me that murder and terrorism are crimes, not acts of war. That would make us the aggressors, attacking nations because some of their citizens were criminals. At least that is better than attacking a nation because there's a possibility that some other nation will attack it first and turn it into a Communist state.

The actions of the leader of a country do not reflect the people within it, and the actions of the criminals of a country reflect them even less. Do you really believe that we should hold you accountable for the things the KKK did, or for Timothy McVeigh, or for some serial rapist? No. Because they were crazy murderers. Let's say that one of those crazy murderers leaves the U.S. and bombs a train in Russia saying it's the will of God. Should Russia attack all of us? Were we responsible for his actions? Do we condone his actions? No. Then why do you insist that the citizens of Iraq should be responsible for the actions of a bunch of crazy fanatic murderers, most of whom weren't even Iraqi?

"How quickly they forget that 3,000 Americans were killed in less than an hour in 1991, in an unprovoked attack on our own homeland."

How quickly you forget that 80,000 Japanese citizens were killed in a matter of seconds in 1945, and that another 60,000 more died of injuries and radiation in the months to follow. And don't tell me it's justified because we were at war. No amount of provocation can justify killing children, the children of an entire city, let alone all the other innocent citizens. Or do you believe that the children of your enemies are culpable for what their parents do? (Oh, wait, the Bible does say that, doesn't it?) Compare 3,000 innocents with 140,000 people who just happened to live in a country at war with us. And then consider just how lucky we are that the Japanese are not as vindictive as we are. If we killed 44,000 or more Iraqis for the deaths of 3,000, how many would the Japanese have to kill for the deaths of 140,000?

Also ... How quickly you forget that we invaded Iraq to get rid of the Weapons of Mass Destruction. I suppose that actually did work, since they apparently evaporated as soon as we got there.

Posted by Bill in Maryland on December 12, 2006:

Assuming that The Straight Dope (which Randy references in his link above) is correct, then Dex has the semaphore for N and D reversed. But that's probably all that he has reversed.

On the other hand, Johnnie in Alabama apparently has his head reversed with another portion of his anatomy. Sure some of the anti-war protesters were hippies and druggies, and some (like our current president - and probably his predecessor) tried to stay out of 'Nam because they were concerned for their personal safety.

I too am a Vietnam vet - in country Jan-Nov 1970. I was also an anti-war protester before I was drafted, and considered decamping for Canada instead of reporting for induction. But I took the easy way out, and showed up at Fort Hamilton; leaving my country, my family, and my friends, possibly for the rest of my life, took far more courage than I had.

And the hippies over here were not alone in "fogging their minds with pot and LSD" - Johnnie isn't telling us how many soldiers in 'Nam were busy doing the same thing. And due to the easy availability of opium, joints painted with opium were quite popular there as well.

Finally, if all the anti-war protestors were cowardly hippies, how does Johnnie account for the strong showings by Vietnam Veterans Against the War?

Posted by Alex on December 13, 2006:

The logo of the CND symbol is explained here, on the web site of the organisation on whose behalf it was designed: http://www.cnduk.org/pages/binfo/logo.html

You will see that the idea of incorporating a christian cross was rejected after priests objected to its use on a protest march.

Posted by Rick on December 13, 2006:

I feel that I have to reply to the comments from Johnnie in Alabama and his rant about hippies and that dastardly peace sign. I was one of those hippie anti-war, draft-resisting protesters. A non-violent, pacifist type of guy. I got my fair share of abuse, including the 1968 Chicago Democratic Convention Police Riot, and even had the pleasure of being woken up out of my bed by F.B.I. agents pointing their guns at my head. They seemed to think that I might know the whereabouts of a draft resister who was on the run and in hiding. (Who? Me? Naw, I don't know what you are talking about, sir! I don't know nuthin.).

I got into my peace activities because I had teachers who taught me that, in America, the government did things with the full knowledge of the people and with their agreement and consent. I originally thought that my government had made some mistakes, and that, as a good citizen, that I should point those mistakes out. I thought that the killing in Viet Nam was a terrible mistake, and that the war and U.S. policy had to be changed in order to save thousands of American and Vietnamese lives. I thought that I was being patriotic. As we now know, my government and many of its other citizens did not see eye to eye with me, including most of my own family whom I dearly loved and respected, but eventually became estranged from. As we know, the situation went from bad to worse, both in Viet Nam and in this country itself.

I find it interesting that Johnnie from Alabama sees the peace symbol, and people like myself, as being anti-Christian, etc. To each his own, I guess. I know that my mind is now pretty much gone from all of those drugs I took back then, and I'm sure that I can't think straight from having my pony tail wound too tightly for the past 40 years, but maybe Johnnie or other readers could help me out a bit. You see, I also got into the peace movement because of a couple of other radical ideas I had heard about. You know, "I am my brother's keeper", and "Thou shalt not kill". Like I said, I can't quite remember where I got those ideas from, but they sounded pretty good at the time. And they still do.

Posted by Laurie on December 15, 2006:

I read last week's "This is True" & was able to walk away. Now, reading the responses to the peace sign wreath article, I just can't continue to do so. I am a Christian -- no apologies. As a Christian I am so deeply offended by what is being said in the name of Christ that I can't stay silent.

As most of us know, Christ preached PEACE. He did not command us to slay our enemies; he did not command us to whine about them, complain about them, speak ill of them, make exaggerated claims and blames about them. He commanded us to love -- sounds like a liberal spewing, war protesting "coward". Who are these "Christians" giving peace to Satan?

I truly wish that they each realized that, by claiming themselves Christian and their views as Christian, they were signing Christ's name to their views. I have a hard time imagining:

Dear Randy,

Those draft dodging cowards who want peace are just fogging their minds with pot and LSD. So are the Iraqi invasion protestors. Just wanted you to know that.

With the love of the One who created all,
Jesus (Christ to those who know)

Just not in the character of the one I worship. Thanks for the space to rant my rant...

Posted by Jim on December 15, 2006:

If I may say, "Jeff" (the first to comment) isn't a "nutball" like Johnnie -- he's an idiot. We didn't go to Vietnam because "The hundreds of thousands of dead Vietnamese from re-education camps" or "The millions of Boat People" but rather because of the "domino theory" of Communism. Even if those were real reasons put forth to justify our involvement, what right do we have to be the world's policemen?

Just like Iraq: it was sold as a "war on terror" even though Saddam had no involvement in the World Trade Center, and the "weapons of mass destruction" even though a thorough search has found none. It's the same old story: come up with an "ism" to fight and jump in no matter what the real facts are:

1960 "Communism"
2005 "Terrorism"

What a waste. America used to be looked up to, but with ONE president we're now the scourge of the political earth. And for WHAT?

But even ignoring all of that, to run around crying "Satanisn" (hey, look at that: another "ism" to rally around!) about a symbol of PEACE is too much. If Christians want to be taken seriously (and boy, are we as a country starting to re-evaluate that!), they need to speak more from knowledge, not idiotic jingoism.

Posted by Jane on December 15, 2006:

I can't resist pointing out an interesting bit of phrasing in Johnnie's letter. He writes, "The links between [September 11] and our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq are undeniable if someone really wants to look at it." Yes, but that doesn't mean those countries, particularly Iraq, had anything to with September 11!

Posted by Jack on December 15, 2006:

I am a Nam vet. I think the person objecting to the display of the peace sign was flat out wrong. I also disagree with what appears to me to be an attempt to justify some aspects of the anti-war movement of the 60s & 70s.

I have no problem with dissenters. Disagreement with a war is a right. My problem is with the people who wrapped themselves in righteous indignation & fled the country. They weren't going to fight in an immoral war. Right. Some nineteen-year-old kid enjoying a four year party in college on daddy's money is an expert on what is or isn't a morally justifiable war. The possibility that the little darling might get drafted & sent overseas is not a consideration. Absolutely not. If the war was a just war they'd be first in line to enlist. And elephants can fly.

I have seen it argued that more courage was needed to flee & leave all behind than was needed to go to war. Let me point this out: KIAs in Nam - 50,000 plus. KIAs among draft dodgers who fled the country - zero.

The current war in Iraq seems to have reached the same level of disapproval as Nam did thirty five years ago. If one can believe what one reads it qualifies as an immoral war. However there are no marches on Washington. There is no fleeing to Canada or Scandinavia. Why? Why are there no mass demonstrations? Why haven't the campuses erupted? Are today's kids lacking the courage of their convictions? Are they too lazy to drive to the airport? Perhaps, just perhaps, it is because there is no draft today.

I will go to my grave wishing the cowards who fled the country were never granted amnesty.

Posted by Mike on December 15, 2006:

The cross is not a symbol of Christ. It's a symbol of Christ's sacrifice. The cross itself is a hideous torture device! The thought that a peace symbol incorporates an upside-down broken cross is ridiculous, but even if it were true, what true Cristian wouldn't want to see the thing that Christ was tortured to death on destroyed? What is it that you worship? The thing, or the sacrifice it represents?

Posted by Carol on December 16, 2006:

Johnnie in Alabama, you should really get your facts straight.

Those who protested our invasion of Viet Nam rejected the notion that Americans have a right to kill people who disagree with us. If you think that not wanting to kill people who have done nothing to you isn't wrong, you need psychiatric care. By the way, every man I know who "served" in Nam used very heavy drugs while there, so it wasn't just the "hippies" back home.

You wrote, "...3,000 Americans were killed in less than an hour in 1991, in an unprovoked attack on our own homeland." As I understand it, the people who died at the World Trade Center were from at least sixty countries, and we should not be so disrespectful as to ignore that. Whether the attacks were "provoked" depends upon one's point of view. If you can't see how American foreign policy has been creating enemies worldwide, you haven't been paying attention.

There is absolutely no evidence that Saddam, or any Iraqis, had any involvement in the attacks on September 11, 2001. In fact, there were, reportedly, no terrorists in Iraq until after we invaded and destroyed cities and infrastructure, killed, maimed, and tortured Iraqis. If you feel murderous after the attacks here, how do you think the Iraqis feel about what we've done to their whole country, and the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis we've killed and maimed and tortured? Are you blind?

Even if the peace sign were antichristian, Americans have a right to display it. America was created to be a secular nation, with freedom of religion and expression. If a peace sign offends you, get over it. Nowhere in the Constitution is there a right to not be offended. In fact, freedom of speech protects speech that might be considered offensive - inoffensive speech requires no protection.

As for Christ's birthday, that character, including his birthday, virgin birth, death for humanity and resurrection, etc., were taken from earlier religions, so Christians could be said to be celebrating the birth of Mithras.

Posted by Jon on December 16, 2006:

Although Johnnie in Alabama may dispute this, the movement against the US invasion of Iraq began among military veterans. One of the longest-established websites exposing this unjust and unjustifiable war is Bring Them Home Now! at http://bringthemhomenow.org . BTHN! was begun by military veterans (Veterans For Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and others) and the families of active-duty troops serving in the gulf (Military Families Speak Out) in 2003.

The establishment of this campaign was prompted by positive reaction to an angry rant by a US Special Forces veteran (and father of a youngster serving in Iraq) after Bush made his chest-thumping "Bring 'Em On" challenge that put our troops at risk in July of 2003.

Since that time, the website and its campaign have helped begin Iraq Veterans Against the War, Gold Star Families for Peace, the active duty troops "Appeal for Redress" campaign (see http://www.appealforredress.org/) and a host of patriotic anti-war activities and activism. When more than 60% of the military itself call for an end to this war based on lies, it is certainly time for the small handful of war supporters to get off their high-horse of being the only true Americans!

Posted by Ozz on December 16, 2006:

Unfortunately such attitudes are common.

A few years ago two women at my workplace complained to their supervisor about another woman wearing the CND symbol, giving all the usual reasons of "it's clearly a broken cross", "it's satanic" and "it's offensive to us as good Christians".

The supervisor told them that if they found it offensive then she would make her stop wearing it, but that they would have to stop wearing their crosses, and take their bibles, etc. off their desks in case they offended anyone.

When the two women said "but who could possibly be offended by our crosses - they represent Jesus?", the supervisor responded with two words: "I'm Jewish."

The women then decided the CND symbol could stay....

Posted by Pete on December 16, 2006:

With all of the bad publicity that homeowner assosciations are getting in recent years - this one and one in my local area a few years ago about a flagpole which flew an American flag - perhaps the idea of such an association is as outdated as some conservatives claim unions to be. At one time the idea was a sound one but with more and more of these mentally limited control freaks heading up these HOAs the intent behind them has been skewed to whatever fancy strikes the current administration of the HOA.

Johnnie from Alabama had one good point in his otherwise unrealistic and skewed rant and that is this : "All civil people want peace, but the aggressors of this world will always make that an impossible dream." As long as there are terrorists like Osama Bin Laden or Timothy McVeigh in this world who will prey on others, there regretably cannot be peace. I'm not condoning any sort of police actions like in Vietnam or Iraq by any means, but in matters of national security then we must have the means to act swiftly and decisively.

But in that light I also have to ask why the scope of the NATIONAL Guard has been expanded to include International areas? Hmmmm, I guess it's outlived its usefulness to future Bush decendants as a refuge from any sort of draft.

Posted by Linda on December 16, 2006:

Regarding Johnnie's assertion that the cross symbolizes Jesus and nothing else--nonsense! Crosses have turned up in several symbols that have nothing to do with Christianity. The Celtic cross dates back to before Christ, and the ancient Egyptians' ankh is a cross with a loop on the top.

I recall seeing photographs of American soldiers in Viet Nam with the peace sign drawn on their helmets. And let's not forget Viet Nam Vets Against the War. Some of those anti-war hippies Johnnie rails against were vets.

Posted by Dave Weigel on December 16, 2006:

About 4 years ago www.truthaboutwar.org placed an ad in "This is True". The next week Randy ran a commentary about all the negative feedback he received and made it a point to mention that he didn't agree with the website. Four years later it seems like Randy & the majority of his readers have changed their tune; better late than never.

---

Not even close, Dave. If you want to speak to something, fine -- but don't try to put words in my mouth. I ran several letters the next week after running that (paid) ad in the 23 March 2003 issue, but neither apologized for nor repudiated the ad. I did castigate clueless readers who "can't distinguish my editorial commentary from a paid ad" -- which most definitely goes for you too, Dave.

In fact, the issue that contained the ad already had a note about it: "WHILE INTELLIGENT READERS already know this, I'll point out that I allow advertisers to say ALMOST whatever they want," and noted that readers who have a problem with an ad's message should "talk to the advertiser about it, not me." Funny how readers with an agenda can ignore the facts. -rc

Posted by Robert on December 16, 2006:

As I read Johnnie's letter, I got more and more riled up and began planning a letter of my own, only to come to your response and read almost exactly what I was about to write.

Ahem, indeed. Johnnie says he doesn't get "how quickly they forget that 3,000 Americans were killed in less than an hour in 1991, in an unprovoked attack on our own homeland" ... What I don't get is how because of that, 3,000 more Americans have to die in Iraq, and to accomplish what?

I've lived in Manhattan all my life. I go to school literally four blocks from the World Trade Center. Please don't tell me we did the right thing going into Iraq.

Posted by Jill on December 17, 2006:

How sad to think that Johnnie in Alabama not only fails to realize that the peace sign isn't Satanic, but that he doesn't recognize that we appear to have failed to learn all of the real lessons from Vietnam.

I am too young to remember the protests of the sixties, but I'm not too young to remember the fallout, the inherent distrust of government, and the quiet underlying terror of the Cold War. I'm glad that we learned not to blame our soldiers for the actions of their superiors -- that the vets who come back this time aren't going to be spat on and ridiculed by those who disagree with policy -- but am horrified that so many people don't recognize that we shouldn't fight wars that a) have little to do with our direct national security, b) we predictably cannot win and c) don't do much for our international reputation but paint us as bullies and zealots, giving people in the region even more perfectly valid reasons to hate Americans/Westerners as a whole.

The "War on Terror" is something we have to fight as individuals, taking care of our own personal security as best we may, going about our daily lives as best we can and refusing to let their tactics changes us for anything other than the better. So, sorry, Johnny, I'd really much rather give peace a chance.

Posted by Murray on December 17, 2006:

Johnnie, if your point of view is based on fallacy, you've got no credibility at all and no hope of convincing others that you might be right. Go home, do some study, find some facts that support your argument, and try again. Otherwise, you're just babbling....

Posted by Gordo on December 18, 2006:

I see Johnnie in Alabama has been sniffing the Agent Orange again.

Posted by Bill on December 18, 2006:

War is an awful thing. Being conquered is worse. That is the reasoning behind the many little wars we have fought since the big one. Power-hungry dictators were defeated and their countries turned into allies. Wikipedia states 62 million people died. Almost immediately Communism swept outward from the Soviet Union with a public objective of world domination. The West did not wait. It took 50 years of little wars to turn it back. Now there is another violent “ism” determined to dominate the world. Again, the West is not waiting. The misery in Vietnam and Iraq was and is awful. Waiting would be worse.

Posted by Karl on December 18, 2006:

Carol points out that no Iraqis were involved (at least personally) in the attack on the World Trade Center. Indeed, the majority of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia.

Therefore, is it safe to assume she would be OK with an invasion of Saudi Arabia?

Posted by Karl on December 18, 2006:

It's interesting to see what kinds of things have been labeled "Satanic" in "reputable" Christian publications.

According to some periodicals, Rainbow Brite and the Care Bears were Satanic, as were the rainbow decals so popular among the "New Age" crowd. You see, rainbows are Satanic symbols.

Unicorns are also Satanic. And according to one hysterical "review" of one of the Harry Potter novels, so is the Phoenix.

I also recall an article which asserted that music in a minor key is Satanic, and that as people are "saved", they naturally switch to music in a major key.

It reminds me of a tagline I saw once: "Satanic: (n) Anything a fundie Christian doesn't like."

Posted by Jim on December 18, 2006:

As a student of history and a child born in 1957 who grew up in the shadow of the nuclear arms race, the Vietnam War and the peace protests that helped end that war, I find it hard to believe that we still have the train of minimalist thought out there that Johnnie professes. Of the current war protestors I know none suffers from a lapse in memory of the atrocity committed against humanity on September 11th. To equate their protestations to a blissed-out draft dodger of the '60s, which in itself displays a simple-minded lack of insight, is to marginalize the deeper thought and understanding that has gone into supporting that point of view.

Protestors are not blind, "knee-jerk" reactionaries to events just to support an opposing point of view. "Knee-jerk" reactionaries usually describe those who step in line with a common passion without applying any independent, intellectual pursuit of the truth. Hmm, who have I now described? Islamic fundamentalists? Evangelical proselyters? Funny that religious zealotry keeps popping up here.

The last just war may have been the Kuwaiti conflict or World War II. The next one may be for the overthrow of Kim Jong Il. I pray that there is never a need for another "just" war but I am pragmatic enough to know that such a war will likely happen in my lifetime. The protestors of this conflict in Iraq believe it has failed to live up to the requisite tests of "justness" from the lack of WMDs, the fuzzy link to state-sponsorship of terrorist cells to the onset of a crippling sectarian civil war. The 9/11 attacks are waved in the face as the black and white evidence to support our bull-headed aggressiveness. All we have since accomplished is the destabilization of the Middle East, re-energized the Taliban in Afghanistan, stretched our resources way too thin, and maimed and killed more Americans to ensure that the pipelines keep flowing cheaper oil. I nearly lost a nephew to a grenade in the Marine assault on Fallouja. As it is, he will have the memory of that war whenever he tries to focus clearly out of one of his eyes or when the weather changes and he feels some of the shrapnel still left in his leg.

I give thanks every day that I was born into a country where those in opposition are given every opportunity to question and demand accountability from those in power. That makes me swell with more pride than some misguided jingoistic enterprise built on faulty logic and even faultier facts.

Posted by Carol in Michigan on December 18, 2006:

Yea Randy!!! I loved your answer to that...I can't say anything without calling him a really rude name!

I, as a lifelong Christian, really HATE HATE HATE fundamentalist whackjobs with too much time on their hands making something out of nothing! I grew up in the 60's, too. I remember the peace sign, the hippies, the boys in my neighborhood dreading their 18th birthdays, and my parents, who seemed to think that if you thought - really thought - about anything contrary to the government's lie that the war was right, that you were somehow unpatriotic.

If there had been something unChristian about the use of the peace sign, why aren't the Satanists using it? And you do know that Rock & Roll music is part of a communist plot to overthrow the American government by way of the nation's young people, don't you? :-)

P.S. Randy, I don't know your religious beliefs, but you possess more Christian qualities than most Christians I know. Keep it up!!

Posted by Stephanie on December 18, 2006:

Thank you so much for passing this information on to so many people. I have heard many stories over the years about how the peace symbol came about from people who swear they know "the truth", but never one so fantastical as Johnnie's. I, too, have known the origin of the peace symbol since I was a child in the 60's, but convincing people sometimes is very difficult.

Posted by Carol on December 19, 2006:

Karl wrote: "Carol points out that no Iraqis were involved (at least personally) in the attack on the World Trade Center. Indeed, the majority of the hijackers were from Saudi Arabia. Therefore, is it safe to assume she would be OK with an invasion of Saudi Arabia?"

No. I don't think it would be okay to invade Saudi Arabia. Why? Because I don't believe in the concept of the "whipping boy" - "punishing" (killing) people because those in power here have a problem with those in power there. The people are not the proxy of the "leaders." The people are not the property of the "leaders." I find the whole concept of killing people to "teach a lesson" to a "leader" to be primitive, at best.

If all people refused to be used as "hit men" or "cannon fodder" for those in power, if all people refused to hate others because such hatred serves those in power, there would be no more war. Wars are always about those in power wanting more: more power, more resources, more land, etc.

Suppose "they" threw a war and no one came? Suppose the people refused to be used in that way? Suppose we told our "leaders" to go fight their own damned wars?

I don't hold out any hope that this will happen, but I can dream.

Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended. Its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force of the people. The same malignant aspect in republicanism may be traced in the inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war. . . and in the degeneracy of manners and morals, engendered by both. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare. --James Madison

The most shocking fact about war is that its victims and its instruments are individual human beings, and that these individual beings are condemned by the monstrous conventions of politics to murder or be murdered in quarrels not their own. --Aldous Huxley

No one has ever succeeded in keeping nations at war except by lies. --Salvador de Madariaga

How you can win the population for war: At first, the statesman will invent cheap lying, that impute the guilt of the attacked nation, and each person will be happy over this deceit, that calm the conscience. It will study it detailed and refuse to test arguments of the other opinion. So he will convince step for step even therefrom that the war is just and thank God, that he, after this process of grotesque even deceit, can sleep better. --Mark Twain

The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and all to lose -- especially their lives. --Eugene Debs

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government. --Edward Abbey

Posted by Fred in South Africa on December 20, 2006:

I was just about to "flame" Johnnie of Alabama for his unmitigated ignorance (of 9/11) when I read your "(ahem)" comment in your reply to him.

No wonder I love Randy Cassinghan. He says it so much better than I do!!!

Posted by David on December 23, 2006:

"Leave it to the Brits to reference something no one in America understands, and American Christians are just sure is 'satanic.' "

Thats an very broad statement. I'm a 26yr old Christian. And I understand the ND. I've read about that a few years ago doing some symbol research.

Strangely/Sadly symbols change throughout the years. The swastika in ancient Greece was a symbol of life, the Nazi's made it their military icon, more like symbol of death. The rainbow was Gods promise that he would never flood the entire Earth again, the symbol now represents gay pride. Imagine someone hanging a rainbow flag out their front door, what would the neighbors think!?

Yes the "peace symbol" has meant peace, it was also used by satanic groups.

---

Which ones, exactly? When? I've never seen a satanic group use the peace sign -- ever. -rc

Posted by Denise on January 8, 2007:

I just watched "The DaVinci Code" for the first time last night. In the beginning of the movie, when Tom Hanks' character is giving his lecture in Paris on symbolism, different graphics are being projected onto the screen behind him.

One of those pictures is of the peace sign with Christ crucified upon it and surrounded by demonic figures!

It is black-and-white, and looks like a very old woodcut, but could just as well be a modern work. So, while I personally don't hold with the whole "peace sign is satanic" thing, clearly at some point some artist or another did. Perhaps this image is where the homeowners association guy got the idea from?

Or maybe the guy just saw the DaVinci code one too many times.

PS: I would be interested if any art gurus out there could reference the piece.

Posted by Jenna - Newport, MI on January 23, 2007:

I hate how certain Christians will declare a symbol to be "anti-Christian" like some seem to about the Peace symbol. As a pagan, I'd like to wear a pentacle, but I feel I cannot. Instead of seeing it as a symbol of MY faith, they see it as a threat or sign of hatred towards THEIR faith. I've even seen some Christians who were offended by a Jewish woman who was wearing a Star of David. I mean, please, did the homeowner guy really think someone would hang a satanic wreath? I don't know any Satanists, but I can't picture them being a decorate their house with wreaths kinda bunch.

Posted by Angela, Hawaii on January 28, 2007:

Actually, the "Peace" sign is an upside down, encircled version of the eleventh century Rune (or "letter" of an alphabet), called Algin. It means, in a nutshell, Protection (see definition below).

"Runes are an ancient Germanic alphabet, used for writing, divination and magick. They were used throughout northern Europe, Scandinavia, the British Isles, and Iceland from about 100 B.C.E. to 1600 C.E. Runic inscriptions of great age have even been found in North America, supporting stories that the Vikings arrived in the Americas long before Columbus.

"Each rune has esoteric meanings and properties associated with it, beyond its mundane meaning and phonetic value. Each translates into a word or a phrase signifying concepts important to the early peoples who used them, representing the forces of nature and mind.

"Algiz: (Z or -R: Elk, protection.) Protection, a shield. The protective urge to shelter oneself or others. Defense, warding off of evil, shield, guardian. Connection with the gods, awakening, higher life. It can be used to channel energies appropriately. Follow your instincts. Keep hold of success or maintain a position won or earned."

Source: http://www.sunnyway.com/runes/

Posted by Mike from Dallas on January 30, 2007:

I was a teenager in the 60's. I remember how the Right tried to discredit the peace symbol by claiming Satanic links to it. Mind you, I'm not a Leftist protester; I enlisted in 1971 for Vietnam. Not drafted, but enlisted (my draft lottery # was 332, so there was no worry there.)

There's always some group trying to discredit some OTHER group by claiming Satanic association. Look up any search engine about Proctor & Gamble's ties to Satanism with its (alleged) satanic symbols in its logo.

The great thing about America is that anyone has the right to spout off about things and show what paranoid lunatics they are. What's sad is how many of those paranoid lunatics can dramatically affect the lives of others.

Posted by Aash from Wisconsin on April 4, 2007:

Its appalling to me to see a simple symbol meant to represent peace become so controversial. No matter what the origin of the peace sign, as time evolves so does the human mind (meaning how people think and what they choose to believe changes over time). By claiming the peace sign to represent somewhat of a ‘satanic’ symbol, is perfectly normal for confused, paranoid, and ignorant people. The ND was originally a peaceful, collected campaign with good intentions. Why would Satan (the great adversary of humanity) want anything to do with a peaceful campaign? Sometimes I wonder what the world would be like if he/she did.

Posted by Mike from Dallas on May 24, 2007:

I just found myself in a similar discussion today. It started out as a conversation about certain Navajo symbols, which looked suspiciously like the Swastika. But I remember reading that Hitler took an ancient Greek symbol and reversed the direction and adopted it. Either way, in both cultures, I'm told that the symbol originally stood for good luck or hope of prosperity. But Hitler changed all that forever. It will now always be seen as a symbol of evil.

If a symbol of something good can be eternally perverted, why not the opposite? Something "evil" becoming hijacked for "good"? Don't people of Faith believe that, such is the Power, Good will ultimately prevail over Evil?

Problem is, there never really have been "Satan worshippers" as any kind of religion (with a very short exception of the attempt by Anton LeVey in San Francisco in the 1960s). It was a myth perpetrated by the ilk of King James, Oliver Cromwell, Cotton Mather, etc. in their depraved, perverted desperation for power over others. (Does Falwell come to mind?)

If there were truly any remnants of such a symbol used as a Satanic icon, there would be written evidence of it before the 1950s. Otherwise, it's an urban myth.

Posted by Lauren, Montclair, Calif on August 3, 2007:

The swastika is a Hindu symbol, not a Greek one. In fact, the word "swastika" comes from the Sanskrit word "svastika," which means "conductive to wellbeing." The Hindu swastika is a sun symbol. Both left and right facing swastikas were used throughout the world. They can be found on old churches in Europe and are still used in Asia. As recently as World War I, they were a favored good luck charm, especially among early aviator. Of course, the west has largely abandoned them for their obvious association with Naziism.

Hitler was very into the occult. There is an association in European Pagan traditions with a clockwise rotation being a building of power and a counter-clockwise rotation being a diminishing of power. Hence Hitler's use of the right facing swastika.

Posted by Lars, Roskilde, Denmark on August 5, 2007:

Besides being a Hindu symbol of peace, prosperity and family, the swastika is also an old Norse symbol for the sun. While the nazis may have been aware of the Hindu use of the symbol, due to their fascination with the occult, they probably intended it to refer to the old Norse meaning. Similarly the twin lightning bolts that were the badge of the SS came from the runic version of the letter 'S'.

Posted by Angela, Hawaii on March 28, 2008:

Actually, the "peace" sign--the vertical line with left and right 45 degree lines coming down from the center of the vertical--was originally the Celtic rune meaning protection. The semaphore was only a recent rendition.

Posted by Maurice, Toronto on April 12, 2008:

Astounded by the level of ignorance that the article on the Peace wreath generated. To counter unfounded bigoted opinion with researched facts may I suggest that all interested parties read Ken Kolsbun & Michael S. Sweeney's "The Biography of A Symbol" in National Geographic, 208, which documents just how Gerald Holtom designed the symbol and explains the semaphore and liturgical connections.

Posted by Patrick, Olivehurst, CA on May 17, 2008:

The peace sign was also very popular in vietnam. Everywhere you looked, soldiers in vietnam were wearing peace signs. When I was in Cu Chi as a crewchief on a helicopter ambulance, many of the wounded soldiers we picked up were wearing peace signs. I wore one, and cheered the antiwar protesters on. I wanted to come home, and sometimes I feel like I'm almost there.

Posted by olivia, florida on October 24, 2008:

Hey, Jenna let me tell you something christians are not that way they do not judge people for whatever reilgon they are Jesus chrst the son of god came down to save our sins from not going to the kingdom of heaven. Sincee you are a pagan you beliee in saintain. But you are so wrong God is the only one judge us and apperntly you are the one who just judged us saying we canit so annti-chrisains so i dont know what you are talking about.

Posted by Robert, California on May 8, 2009:

Religious Nuts, It's all Mythology ya dumb bunnies, read the story it's a fable.

Your Balance is within, not in somebody's book, write your own, look inside.

Posted by Dennis, Summerville on December 3, 2009:

The history of the 'peace symbol' can be found by researching 'Nero's Cross'. The inverted cross was a reference to the death of the Apostle Peter at the hands of Nero.

Posted by Chris - Cape Town, Sunny South Africa on December 1, 2016:

I guess you must have been so tired of this whole argument that when you saw this you decided to just post it and let it be its own criticism:

Hey, Jenna let me tell you something christians are not that way they do not judge people for whatever reilgon they are Jesus chrst the son of god came down to save our sins from not going to the kingdom of heaven. Sincee you are a pagan you beliee in saintain. But you are so wrong God is the only one judge us and apperntly you are the one who just judged us saying we canit so annti-chrisains so i dont know what you are talking about.

Wow, hard to know where to begin with this. I read a quote the other day that went something like "Write like it's important, and it will be". Well conversely, write like this and how can anyone take you seriously? Nonetheless, let's attempt to read past the gross lack of ability to type, proofread, spell, or punctuate, and see if we can make any sense of this. If nothing else though, Olivia has managed to pack a lot of ... well, something, into few words.

Christians are not that way -- uhh, yeah, they are. Lots of them. Jenna was referring to some who clearly are.

Came down to save our sins from not going to heaven -- OK it looks like you said the exact opposite of what you meant there. Never mind, dear, we'll make allowances for your inability to think.

Since you are a pagan you believe in satan -- no. Check your facts, you bigoted person you. Paganism is as far from satanism as it is from Christianity (or any theistic religion). I'm not any kind of pagan, satanist, or god-worshipper of any kind, but I read stuff and in fact paganism probably predates Judaism or any of the other theistic religions by a few millennia.

You are so wrong God is the only one to judge us -- well I don't think there is anything in Jenna's post to contradict that.

Saying we can't (?) (is) (?) so anti-christian -- umm yeah I'm starting to lose you here Olivia ... sorry, you're breaking up ... what's that? Hello? Hello?

So I don't know what you are talking about -- Hmmm well yes that probably is a good way to conclude, but doesn't give the whole story though does it. Olivia, you don't know what *you* are talking about and that's a fact.

In fact it's odd of all the posts to that point, you singled out Jenna's as the one you felt most strongly about and wanted to react to. First, you misread what she said, second, you don't have a clue, and third, you didn't even bother reading the entire post.

Ah but I just looked at your post again -- that explains everything -- "olivia, florida"! There you go then!

---

Your initial thought that "when you saw this you decided to just post it and let it be its own criticism" is correct. It speaks for itself -- very poorly. -rc

Posted by Bergman, Seattle WA on December 13, 2016:

As an interesting side note, weapons of mass destruction are defined very broadly by federal statutes. To the extent that a single fragmentary grenade in the possession if a group can convict the entire group of possessing WMDs in a federal court.

I've often wondered if the 'Saddam has WMDs' claim was actually based on the federal statutory definition (which would make it true) but the reason inspectors never found any is they were operating under the international law definition?

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