i went to snoqualmie today, which is about 70 miles east of here, ostensibly to see the Doc Maynard chapter of E Clampus Vitus Precision Drill Team (which i am probably going to join at their next meeting). when i called to get directions, i mentioned to the person that i had an art car, and they suggested that i should be in the parade as well. i was unsure if they understood what an art car was, but they assured me that they were looking for unusual things to be in their parade, and they assured me that i would be welcome.
so i went early this morning (on saturday, 8:30 am is early), and registered for the parade, got assigned a number, parked my car, and was hanging out waiting for the parade to start, when i was approached by a snoqualmie police officer, who said that they had “an issue” with my vehicle. apparently someone on the parade staff was concerned that somebody might be “offended” by the fact that there is a swastika on the roof and back corner panels of my car. i explained to them that the swastika is an ancient symbol of love, peace and good luck that was used by every group of people on the planet for thousands of years, and in that context, i was reclaiming the swastika from ignorant people who assume that the only thing it means is nazi.
he agreed with me, and went back to his other duties. at the same time, i started talking with some other people in the parade, including some people in the float in front of me, which was sponsored by falun gong, another group which uses the swastika in the emblem for their organisation. they were appalled that there had even been any question about it, and offered to go talk to the parade staff about it, which i wholeheartedly encouraged them to do.
while they were away, talking to people, the snoqualmie policeman came back and told me that he was not speaking as a policeman, but as a spokesperson for the parade staff, who had decided that i couldn’t be in their parade, despite the non-nazi use of the swastika, because “it is a family event” and they didn’t want anybody to be offended. he said that if i didn’t move my car out of the parade lineup, that it would be towed.
i don’t see how people can learn that the swastika means anything other than what they’re wrong to think it means unless they are exposed to it in public situations that are different from what they think, and i told him that. he said he was sorry, but that if i didn’t move my car, it would be towed. he encouraged me to find a parking spot somewhere out of the parade lineup, where i could explain to people what it meant, but there was no more he could do.
several people were watching this whole encounter, and spoke up that they weren’t offended by my car, that the swastika has a far more ancient and positive meaning than the “parade staff” was putting on it, and they didn’t understand why i was being kicked out of the parade, but it didn’t matter, and i was summarily ejected from the parade.
it turned out that one person Tove Warmerdam was the one who was offended, and she (he? i don’t know) never talked to me personally. the only person i talked to was the burly policeman who wasn’t speaking as a policeman who was insisting that i remove my car from the parade lineup.
i ended up parking my car right next to a “christian” bookstore and handing out postcards to anybody who seemed interested. most of the people were shocked that i was kicked out of the parade, especially since the falun gong float (and chinese dancers) were not, and those that asked me if i “liked hitler” were open to the idea that not only was my car the antithesis of what hitler was trying to create, but that it had been that way for thousands of years prior to hitler’s birth, and that the swastika had been used since ancient times to mean completely the opposite of what they initially thought. i also noticed that there were a number of indian families who looked as though they were locals, who didn’t even need to be told what the car signifies, who took my picture and pictures of the car, and encouraged me to come to more things in the area (the parade in north bend, just up the road from snoqualmie, is next week. i may go.)
i talked to the guy who is the editor for the snoqualmie valley record, who took a couple of pictures of me and my car, and he said he would be writing me, but it really bothers me that i am trying to educate people, and the people who need educating the most are the ones in charge.