Friday, December 06, 2013

The Hammer and Sickle vs The Swastika

Any of you who know me on a personal level know that I am fond of war games.
You might think this would be something that actual warfare cured me of, but alas, the addiction remains.
It is probably due to growing up in a home where my father was an enthusiast. He and his university buddies enjoyed painting models and creating landscapes for tactical games based on real conflicts. They relived battles such as Waterloo and Normandy in our den and garage. I watched with wonder. Growing up, I had it a little easier. I could buy my games in boxes and eventually for computers and video game consoles. I still enjoy, when I have the time, the strategy and problem solving aspects of these virtual conflicts.
But, there has been something that has irked me for years. It has come to my attention again, since the release of a really neat WWII combat simulator known as War Thunder.
In fact it is always present in WWII games these days.
I first noticed it in the 90's when I bought a boxed set of 'Axis and Allies'.
The Third Reich’s forces are incorrectly marked, but the Soviet forces are not.
Most people who would even notice this would react with a big 'So What'?
After all the Nazi emblems are offensive to many, right?
Well, sure. But that's what was on the tanks, planes, and ships.
That's who ran the German Empire: The Nazis.
Further, the Hammer and Sickle is deeply offensive to millions as well. Most notably the people who lived under their oppression and the relatives of the tens, if not hundreds of millions the Soviet death machine murdered.
These people were starved to death, worked to death, summarily executed, raped, burned alive, and wiped out for no other reason than their ethnicity. The people who survived them hate Soviet symbolism.
Sound familiar?
The reality is that while the Nazis killed millions over the span of just under two decades, the Soviets killed TENS OF MILLIONS over the span of a century.
So why is it okay for the Soviets emblem to be on my gaming board, but the Nazis are banned?
This is a really strange imbalance.
I am not suggesting these images should be banned from gaming all together. Rather I am pointing out that only a SINGLE genocidal power is!
I have had it pointed out to me that by including the Swastika and various SS symbols in these games, it would prevent Germans from playing them - as these images and ideas are illegal there. This is a fallacious argument. A German version could be made. Besides, are we to believe that the Germans, of ALL people, don't know the truth?
It was their grandparents and great grandparents that fought on that side!
If we take the German argument for self-censorship at face value, why would we want modern Russians to glory in Soviet imagery? Why do we not self censor those images and ideas? Simply because they were our allies during the war?
They were, after all, the OTHER power that invaded Poland and STARTED the bloody conflict.
My point is simple, really.
History that is forgotten (or suppressed) is doomed to repeat. White-washing the German war machine is not in good taste. Pretending the Soviets were somehow morally superior to the Nazis is reprehensible.
'Aw come on, it's only a game', you say.
Really? Is it just the games?
Why is it acceptable for college kids to wear Che T-shirts? Lenin shirts? CCCP soccer and hockey jerseys? Would the same colleges, restaurants, and other public places allow the same kids to wear Waffen SS shirts? Hitler or Himmler shirts? Third Reich Olympic hockey jerseys?
I think not.
There is a very strange double standard when it comes to mass murder, war, and genocide.

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