Pret-a-Reporter

Clothing Company Tries to "Reclaim" Swastika Symbol, Fails Miserably

Turns out a rainbow doesn't erase decades of hate, suffering and oppression.

A European T-shirt and design company tried to "reclaim" the swastika and rebrand it as a symbol of peace by printing a rainbow version of the hateful Nazi symbol on T-shirts. Not surprisingly, the effort failed miserably. 

KA design, whose tagline is "Questioning Boundaries," posted a video to Facebook in mid-July explaining the origins of the "5,000-year-old symbol," which had once stood for "peace," "love," "infinity," "luck" and "life" until, "One day, Nazism." 

"They won. They limited our freedom," explains the video of the Nazi's use of the swastika. "...Or maybe not?" KA design then goes on to flash various crewneck tees, tanks and long-sleeve T-shirts (priced between $22 and $27) branded with the "new" rainbow swastika featuring either "PEACE," "LOVE" or "ZEN" stamped below it.  

Reactions to the video, which has been viewed over 2.5 million times and has 12,000 comments, were largely livid. 

"Doesn't make a difference what color it is," wrote one user on Facebook. "That's the symbol that greeted my family as they arrived at Auschwitz. What next, forearm bar code tattoos that all Jews were branded with? Retire the swastika, it's an insult to humanity."

Others pointed out that the original swastika found in ancient Buddhist and Hindu texts was not rotated 45 degrees, as are both the Nazi and KA design symbols. In addition to disgust over the symbol's Nazi connotations, users also called KA design tasteless for attempting to make a profit off the venture. 

The Anti-Defamation League as well as several Jewish groups spoke out against the effort to "reclaim" the symbol.

The shirts, which were being sold on T-shirt marketplace Teespring, were removed by the company. They issued the following statement regarding their decision to pull the swastika merch: "Teespring would like to apologize for this incident and is taking action to ensure this does not happen again in the future." They noted to Al Jazeera that no shirts were sold and that on behalf of those offended, the company would donate to The World Holocaust Remembrance Center.

"Hatred and Nazism have won," the company wrote on Facebook. "We brought out the worst in people. We believe in a world of infinite forgiveness. We forgive everyone. And we hope to be forgiven. Let Love Prevail."

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