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Letters: Is it possible to file a story mentioning the word ‘Swastika’ vizout, sorry, without eliciting a flurry of informative, and often angry, mail from your readers? (We refer to a recent article about a patch that got rid of a couple of pictures...)

It would seem not.

Communication poured in from those who would educate us, those who would shame us, those who were worried about the black helicopters and those who had a genuinely interesting story.

Actually – let’s start there:

Subject: The Swastika is on our county courthouse...

Believe it or not.

The Jefferson County Alabama courthouse was built sometime in the late '20s...well before the Third Reich was in anyone's vocabulary save for you-know-who.

It is clearly visible on the steps going up to the courthouse. Still is.

And why has no one ever made a deal of this? Even during WWII and after, even during the Birmingham civil rights mess of the '60s ? Turns out that many American Indians used it as their symbol,usually turned backwards from the way the Ubermensch displayed it.

A local tribe was one of those.

Truth is stranger than fiction, ain't it?

Regards...ron smith...leeds...(alabama)



You couldn’t make that one up, so we’ll have to agree, yes, truth is stranger than fiction in this particular case.

A couple of people wanted us to have a clearer idea of the origin of the swastika.



Lester,

The symbol removed from the Bookshelf font is technically a swavastika, the clock-wise facing version of the ancient sunwheel symbol. In Sanskrit, swastika means amen, or so be it. The swastika itself is thousands of years old, and prior to its death at the hands of PR hacks after World War II, it was revered in many religious cultures including Buddhism as a symbol of universal harmony. Hitler adopted the mirror-image of the swastika for his flag, either for aesthetic or symbolic reasons... but it isn't a swastika, and it wasn't his invention.

A ‘swavastika’ eh? Is that a more courteous and smooth version of adhesive label? (Say it: a ‘suaver sticker’. Sorry)



Dear Lester,

May I comment on the Swastika.

The Swastika is NOT a Japanese or a Buddhist sign. It is a sign derived from ancient Sanskrit texts and is the sign of the Hindu god Ganesha who has an elephant head.

In reality, the Swastika is a cross that spins clockwise when viewed from the front. Bypassing its mythological aspects, like the elephant head, etc, the Swastika represents a subtle centre which relates to the prostate gland in the male and the uterus in the female. Our Swastika is debased when we are licentious or become religious.

Crikey! If we had only known…Do go on:

Just because the ancient Romans, which is where Hitler and his unbalanced advisors got the idea in the first instance with inputs from Tibetan monks who gloriously got it wrong by depicting the Swastika as spinning anti-clockwise in some instances, used it in their name for destruction, doesn't mean that the Swastika is evil or represents evil <snip>



Gotcha. The symbol itself is not inherently evil. Did we suggest that it was?

Onward, gentle readers, to the next letter:

Hey Lester

As a company that feels it has every right to be sole owners of the word 'Windows', I suppose it follows that M$ would immediately associate a generic symbol which has existed for thousands of years, usually in a peaceful and friendly manner, with a dominating, all-powerful evil...

Wait a minute...

The next writer might not like your sentiments there Mr. Merison…

Subject: Extremely inflammatory article - please take action to correct.

Your article about Microsoft removing the Swastika symbol from Office 2003 is incorrect and extremely inflammatory.

The article states that the Microsoft patch removes the Swastika and the Star-of-David symbols, and suggests that this may be a conspiracy. The reality is that the patch completely erased ALL symbols from the bookshelf 7 font. The picture that was made by James Wilkinson , as the article claims, is an inflammatory fake. Please take care to correct this info as soon as possible.

Also, it may be worthwhile to note that the Star-of-David symbol (as well as the Cross and other religious symbols) are still present and accounted for in other fonts, such as the classic Wingdings, which has been with us since the beginning of time.

Respectfully yours,
Erez Ben-Ari
Microsoft

Generally, we take a couple of ibuprofen and have a little lie down to deal with material of an inflammatory nature. Sorts everything out in a jiffy.

Lastly, of course, there are the messages from the brotherhood of geek. If it wasn’t for people like you, civilisation would probably never have got started in the first place.

Subject: RE: MS tears swastika from roof of Office

Buddhist and Neo-Nazi Office users can continue to express their sentiments with the character U+5350 in Arial Unicode MS, of course.

Thanks Chung. More from a chap called Patrick:

Lester,

Don't worry - the 'Buddhist' version of the swastika is alive and well as character 534D in any font with CJK unified ideographs - for example Batang.

How about that for a piece of geekery!

Patrick

Topgeekery indeed.

To close, however, we should probably clarify that when we mentioned the black helicopters, we were suggesting that conspiracy theorists would find grist for their mill in the removal of the symbols. Not that there was a conspiracy. Quite a leap between the two. ®

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