Author Topic: Is this string holder offensive?  (Read 4732 times)

Paul der Krake

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Is this string holder offensive?
« on: September 01, 2017, 08:02:37 PM »


Yes/No

geekette

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2017, 08:15:07 PM »
Certainly not to my taste, but the string isn't coming out her nose (or worse) so I vote kitschy, but not offensive.

Kris

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2017, 08:20:35 PM »
Wow.

Yeah. Gross.
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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2017, 08:22:46 PM »
Don't know for sure, but I'd use yes as a working assumption.

(Figure false positives hurt a lot less than false negatives when trying to filter out offensive stuff.)
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lhamo

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2017, 08:23:09 PM »
I think many African Americans would probably find it offensive -- that whole Aunt Jemima-y/black housekeeper or nanny trope was a long-used sterotype in American culture, and evokes blackface and other representations of African Americans that are pretty widely frowned upon these days.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mammy_archetype
https://ferris.edu/jimcrow/mammies/
http://www.historyonthenet.com/authentichistory/diversity/african/1-mammy/
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forumname123

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2017, 08:29:42 PM »
Wow.

Yeah. Gross.

Care to explain why?

Another Reader

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #6 on: September 01, 2017, 08:31:26 PM »
This is the sort of thing that belongs in a museum, along with other historical artifacts from that era.  Preservation of history is important because of the opportunity to learn from it.  The Holocaust killed six million people, and there are museums that help current and future generations understand what happened then.

The same is true of the Confederate statues.  They are of historical importance.  Removing them removes the opportunity to be reminded of the Civil War.  Obliterating history because it is "offensive" is counterproductive.  Next thing you know, Gone with the Wind will be banned because it is "offensive."

marty998

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #7 on: September 01, 2017, 08:39:04 PM »
Obliterating history because it is "offensive" is counterproductive.  Next thing you know, Gone with the Wind will be banned because it is "offensive."

Frankly my dear AR, I'm not sure anyone gives a damn.

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #8 on: September 01, 2017, 08:42:16 PM »
I think many African Americans would probably find it offensive -- that whole Aunt Jemima-y/black housekeeper or nanny trope was a long-used sterotype in American culture, and evokes blackface and other representations of African Americans that are pretty widely frowned upon these days.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mammy_archetype
https://ferris.edu/jimcrow/mammies/
http://www.historyonthenet.com/authentichistory/diversity/african/1-mammy/

+100

That's exactly it. The portrayal is one of a servile African American. I thinks it's like the N word. If you're black, it's the figurine would be kitschy (reappropriating the symbol) but if you're white, it's nasty.

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #9 on: September 01, 2017, 08:47:30 PM »
Obliterating history because it is "offensive" is counterproductive.  Next thing you know, Gone with the Wind will be banned because it is "offensive."

Frankly my dear AR, I'm not sure anyone gives a damn.

You are right about that.  The educational system we have is creating a nation of sheep, people that only tolerate one way of thinking and refuse to listen to or respect others.  Destroying history is another step on the road to our cultural destruction and a new form of fascism. 

Hotstreak

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #10 on: September 01, 2017, 08:50:02 PM »
Not offensive at all. 

lost_in_the_endless_aisle

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #11 on: September 01, 2017, 09:41:56 PM »
It's disconcerting the string is coming from her chest; belly button/umbilical cord would make more sense!

As applies for virtually anything, whether it should be considered offensive or not depends on its context.

DoubleDown

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2017, 09:50:52 PM »
Well I just learned there's such a thing as a string holder. To think all this time any string I've owned has been wrapped up by its loser self without a holder, or around a simple stick or rod, and stuck in a drawer or tool box. So lame. I'll be shopping for a decorative string holder first thing tomorrow (but not an offensive one)!
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rosaz

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #13 on: September 01, 2017, 11:21:24 PM »
Yeah. My reaction's based mostly on the skin color, which is not a human shade of brown, but instead that obsidian color... it gives it the air of caricaturing someone the artist didn't really see as human.

Adventine

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #14 on: September 02, 2017, 12:02:24 AM »
From my point of view, having grown up on the other side of the world in a completely different cultural context, meaning I wasn't really exposed to the racial tensions mentioned by previous posters:

It's just an unappealing piece of ceramic with an oddly placed string. I didn't think about any racial undertones until I read the other posts.

GuitarStv

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2017, 07:08:15 AM »
Do I personally find it offensive?  No, not really.  It's just a weird kitschy thing.  I'd never keep something like that in my home though.  It's clearly a charicature of a black person, and that sort of thing carries a lot of baggage for many people.  Keeping something like that in your home would imply:
- you're ignorant of black history
- you want people to feel uncomfortable in your home
- you tacitly approve of racial stereotypes

Paul der Krake

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #16 on: September 02, 2017, 07:49:23 AM »
Okay enough people place it somewhere on the distasteful/offensive spectrum that it should not be displayed. Special thanks to llhamo for the instructive links.

I left out any contextual information to get gut reactions. It is indeed from another era, and quite kitschy.

bacchi

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2017, 08:32:45 AM »
Obliterating history because it is "offensive" is counterproductive.  Next thing you know, Gone with the Wind will be banned because it is "offensive."

Frankly my dear AR, I'm not sure anyone gives a damn.

You are right about that.  The educational system we have is creating a nation of sheep, people that only tolerate one way of thinking and refuse to listen to or respect others.  Destroying history is another step on the road to our cultural destruction and a new form of fascism.

No one is destroying history. The 2nd link above is a museum with an entire wall of mammies.

Re: the statues -- statues in a prominent public place are a form of veneration. Removing a statue isn't "destroying history" there either. Slavery and the Civil War are still in history books, where they belong.

GenXbiker

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2017, 08:57:11 AM »

I don't see anything offensive about it, but I think it is unattractive, so I wouldn't want it in my house.

geekette

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2017, 09:26:36 AM »
Wow, I had no idea about the mammies (and I thought the string was coming out of her hands).

As for the statues, listen to 99% Invisible's rebroadcast of the Memory Palace's podcast on the Nathan Bedford Forrest stature in Memphis.  The intent around these items means more than the items themselves.

BudgetSlasher

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #20 on: September 02, 2017, 09:31:34 AM »
Yes. I don't think the piece on its own is terribly offensive, but when placed in the context of the mammy archetype (which is what I immediately associate it with) then yes it is offensive. At least it offensive or in poor taste out of limited contexts, such as a museum or collection of americana.

wordnerd

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #21 on: September 02, 2017, 10:09:01 AM »
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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #22 on: September 02, 2017, 10:23:37 AM »
It's offensive, racially insensitive, and if you were to showcase it in your home you would most likely be regarded as ignorant to important history.


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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #23 on: September 02, 2017, 10:42:01 AM »
Wow, I thought everyone knew this kind of thing is horrible. No, you don't display something like this in your house unless you want people to perceive you as racist/clueless. It perpetuates a dehumanizing stereotype from a shameful historical era. Please befriend a black person and get to know them as a human being, and then take another look at this piece of "kitschy" home decor.
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Dicey

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #24 on: September 02, 2017, 10:49:19 AM »
This is the sort of thing that belongs in a museum, along with other historical artifacts from that era.  Preservation of history is important because of the opportunity to learn from it.  The Holocaust killed six million people, and there are museums that help current and future generations understand what happened then.

The same is true of the Confederate statues.  They are of historical importance.  Removing them removes the opportunity to be reminded of the Civil War.  Obliterating history because it is "offensive" is counterproductive.  Next thing you know, Gone with the Wind will be banned because it is "offensive."
Huh. I thought I read that the statues in question were erected to honor Jim Crow-era "leaders", not Civil War Leaders. Wha'd I miss?

Paul, perhaps a white person might be less likely to find it so than a person of color. As a Mustachian, I find it offensive because who the fuck needs a string holder?
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marble_faun

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #25 on: September 02, 2017, 11:33:30 AM »
If I were you, I would banish this.

The string-holder was designed to offer nostalgia, symbolically recreating the era of slavery, when black people were forced to serve white people.  There's really no reason for this object to exist, other than to have an obedient Mammy serving up the string.

Household Mammy ceramics are quite common and can be found in thrift stores and antique shops all over the country. There are collectors of these kinds of objects -- often people with a deep interest in African-American history. But if you're outside of that category, I would hesitate to keep this. It has a strong political valence that you might not intend to express.
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Dicey

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #26 on: September 02, 2017, 12:56:29 PM »
If I were you, I would banish this.

The string-holder was designed to offer nostalgia, symbolically recreating the era of slavery, when black people were forced to serve white people.  There's really no reason for this object to exist, other than to have an obedient Mammy serving up the string.

Household Mammy ceramics are quite common and can be found in thrift stores and antique shops all over the country. There are collectors of these kinds of objects -- often people with a deep interest in African-American history. But if you're outside of that category, I would hesitate to keep this. It has a strong political valence that you might not intend to express.
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Dabnasty

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #27 on: September 02, 2017, 10:37:58 PM »
First, yes it's offensive.

But I can certainly see how people less exposed to other cultures or somewhat isolated in the US wouldn't think anything of it so I wouldn't judge someone for not thinking it's offensive. Where I grew up they were a fairly common decoration (not just like this one, but they all used stereotypes) and I suspect every one I ever saw was inherited, not bought. The main reason they were still around was because people just didn't throw stuff away. If you don't stop to really think about what it is i can see why some just see it as a cartoonish decoration.



rdaneel0

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #29 on: September 02, 2017, 11:28:43 PM »
Yes, it is offensive.

...also had no idea a string holder was a thing.
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Polaria

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #30 on: September 02, 2017, 11:34:31 PM »
In this age yes it is considered offensive. Get rid of that thing, you'll only get into trouble by keeping it imo.

In Belgium we have also had fierce polemics linked to our colonial past in Africa: for example, the polemic about Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) (http://www.flanderstoday.eu/current-affairs/antwerp-abandons-blackface-zwarte-piet) and the "Tintin in Congo" lawsuit (https://www.theguardian.com/law/2012/may/14/effort-ban-tintin-congo-fails).

lost_in_the_endless_aisle

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #31 on: September 03, 2017, 12:45:32 AM »
In this age yes it is considered offensive. Get rid of that thing, you'll only get into trouble by keeping it imo.

In Belgium we have also had fierce polemics linked to our colonial past in Africa: for example, the polemic about Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) (http://www.flanderstoday.eu/current-affairs/antwerp-abandons-blackface-zwarte-piet) and the "Tintin in Congo" lawsuit (https://www.theguardian.com/law/2012/may/14/effort-ban-tintin-congo-fails).
I thought Zware Piet is a depiction of a Spanish Moor and has no ties to any Belgian colonial possessions. If anything, the Moors (which is a vague term) had colonized Spain from Northern Africa. Finally, I thought the depiction of Zwarte Piet is generally positive. Yes, it's a bit of a caricature, but so is Santa Claus.

More generally, the use of blackface in an intentionally derogatory manner in the form of minstrel shows was never widespread outside of the US and UK. Nevertheless, it's still a popular pass-time, as an example, to re-contextualize Die Antwoord videos to fill column inches.

Polaria

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #32 on: September 03, 2017, 02:28:24 AM »
In this age yes it is considered offensive. Get rid of that thing, you'll only get into trouble by keeping it imo.

In Belgium we have also had fierce polemics linked to our colonial past in Africa: for example, the polemic about Zwarte Piet (Black Peter) (http://www.flanderstoday.eu/current-affairs/antwerp-abandons-blackface-zwarte-piet) and the "Tintin in Congo" lawsuit (https://www.theguardian.com/law/2012/may/14/effort-ban-tintin-congo-fails).
I thought Zware Piet is a depiction of a Spanish Moor and has no ties to any Belgian colonial possessions. If anything, the Moors (which is a vague term) had colonized Spain from Northern Africa. Finally, I thought the depiction of Zwarte Piet is generally positive. Yes, it's a bit of a caricature, but so is Santa Claus.

There is a "After and Before" pic of Zwarte Piet here: https://www.kuleuven.be/thomas/page/zwarte-piet/ .I think this highlights why Zwarte Piet got conflated with racism/colonialism issues, although like you wrote the two are originally unrelated.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2017, 02:37:20 AM by Polaria »

iowajes

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #33 on: September 03, 2017, 04:44:51 AM »
On its own, I'd lean to yes, but maybe no.

On the counter of a non-black person it is offensive. I cannot tell black people how to feel about their own portrayal. But I can tell you as a white person relics of the past like this where black people are portrayed as caricatures just are not appropriate.

DarkandStormy

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #34 on: September 03, 2017, 06:19:50 AM »
Yes.
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Rural

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #35 on: September 03, 2017, 11:45:27 AM »
Yes.

Pizzabrewer

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #36 on: September 03, 2017, 11:53:56 AM »
Not even close.  Yes it is offensive.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #37 on: September 03, 2017, 07:56:17 PM »
Yes!!!

If there is even a slight chance that it would distress anyone looking at it, I would not use it.


solon

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #38 on: September 03, 2017, 08:44:02 PM »
Yes!!!

If there is even a slight chance that it would distress anyone looking at it, I would not use it.

That's a pretty high standard. I have things in my home that might distress some people.

GenXbiker

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #39 on: September 03, 2017, 09:48:21 PM »
Yes!!!

If there is even a slight chance that it would distress anyone looking at it, I would not use it.

That's a pretty high standard. I have things in my home that might distress some people.

Exactly.  It's your house.  Put in it what you wish.  If someone has a problem with it or thinks it's inappropriate, that is their problem.

I wouldn't destroy the thing.  If you don't want it - sell it on eBay for some coin.  Other similar items are listed there.

Dabnasty

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #40 on: September 03, 2017, 10:28:42 PM »
Yes!!!

If there is even a slight chance that it would distress anyone looking at it, I would not use it.

That's a pretty high standard. I have things in my home that might distress some people.

Exactly.  It's your house.  Put in it what you wish.  If someone has a problem with it or thinks it's inappropriate, that is their problem.

I wouldn't destroy the thing.  If you don't want it - sell it on eBay for some coin.  Other similar items are listed there.
I think OP is asking because they don't want to offend people when they come to their home. Your suggestion seems to be that it doesn't matter if it is offensive but would you make the same argument if it was something even more offensive? Not giving examples of more offensive things because that leads down the rabbit hole.

Regarding selling it my gut reaction was no, but to be honest it depends on the price. I'm not turning down $200 if somebody wanted it that bad but I doubt it would fetch that.

GenXbiker

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #41 on: September 03, 2017, 10:49:46 PM »
Yes!!!

If there is even a slight chance that it would distress anyone looking at it, I would not use it.

That's a pretty high standard. I have things in my home that might distress some people.

Exactly.  It's your house.  Put in it what you wish.  If someone has a problem with it or thinks it's inappropriate, that is their problem.

I wouldn't destroy the thing.  If you don't want it - sell it on eBay for some coin.  Other similar items are listed there.
I think OP is asking because they don't want to offend people when they come to their home. Your suggestion seems to be that it doesn't matter if it is offensive but would you make the same argument if it was something even more offensive?

Well, since it's the home owner's home, I would say it is up to him whether he thinks something is offensive or not, so I would not argue with what the home owner decides to have in his own house, assuming it's legal and all.  The home owner may take into consideration how someone who visits him may think about the piece, but I wouldn't argue about that, either.

Quote
Regarding selling it my gut reaction was no, but to be honest it depends on the price. I'm not turning down $200 if somebody wanted it that bad but I doubt it would fetch that.

I doubt $200, maybe $50 or so.

spartana

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #42 on: September 04, 2017, 08:51:43 PM »
Very offensive. Right up there with lawn jockeys and water melon eating pickaninny dolls and figurines. However I do see it as part of a collection in the right setting - museum depicting prejudice, negative stereotypes, etc... of early american.folk art. But pretty offensive as a personal knick-knack on display in your home.
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Paul der Krake

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #43 on: September 04, 2017, 09:13:42 PM »
lawn jockeys
Well, shit. I'm now frantically trying to remember the various lawn jockeys I have seen and whether or not they were black.

spartana

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #44 on: September 04, 2017, 09:26:08 PM »
lawn jockeys
Well, shit. I'm now frantically trying to remember the various lawn jockeys I have seen and whether or not they were black.
.I think that the reason people considered black lawn jockeys racist is because they were portrayed with highly exaggerated features.  Probably not as offensive as most early African American folk art is but lots of people consider then racist.
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expatartist

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #45 on: September 04, 2017, 09:35:15 PM »
"Negrobilia" is found offensive by many. There's a collection of it at Chicago's Stony Island Arts Bank http://www.chicagotribune.com/entertainment/beingthere/ct-arts-bank-stony-island-ent-0705-20170628-column.html that, when you see an image like this Mammy in context (alongside "Whites Only" signs), made my stomach churn.

From the article:
'a postcard showing two black children, the caption reading, "I'm sending you a pair of black kids." Asked what it meant, he said it was likely an advertisement for a pair of gloves. He smiled at the absurdity.
...
"The more I collected of this, the more I realized the range of stuff that had derogatory black images was endless," he said. The intended message of the advertising was often innocuous, completely disconnected from the racism of the images used to sell an item.

Indeed, to poke through Williams' collection is to be reminded, harshly, of how commodified and ordinary racism has been, and arguably is, in American pop culture. "It was big companies and small companies doing it," he said. "I don't want people to forget when there is no downside to denigrating a race of people, companies will do it."'
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iris lily

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #46 on: September 04, 2017, 11:31:55 PM »
It is ugly and kitschy as others have said. Tossing around the word "banning" is a bit much.

Yet, in Prague we visited an antique dealer who sold Nazi pins. This stuff isnt traded elsewhere in the world and is downright illegal in some parts. Funny how that makes it a little bit attractive and interesting. This dealer had several Mothers Medals, one kind for mothers who produced 4 children for the Reich, another, fancier one for mothers of 6 children.

Outright banning confederate flags ( which will never hapoen in the U.S. anyway) just makes them more interesting.

iris lily

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #47 on: September 04, 2017, 11:36:40 PM »
Some African Americans collect this stuff ironically.

spartana

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #48 on: September 05, 2017, 12:38:10 AM »
It is ugly and kitschy as others have said. Tossing around the word "banning" is a bit much.

Yet, in Prague we visited an antique dealer who sold Nazi pins. This stuff isnt traded elsewhere in the world and is downright illegal in some parts. Funny how that makes it a little bit attractive and interesting. This dealer had several Mothers Medals, one kind for mothers who produced 4 children for the Reich, another, fancier one for mothers of 6 children.

Outright banning confederate flags ( which will never hapoen in the U.S. anyway) just makes them more interesting.
I have a bunch of Nazi stuff and things like Hitler stamps, coins, etc... (My Mom is from  East Prussia and Opa/granddaddy was a young Nazi soldier in WWII and my Mom brought a bunch of stuff from Germany when she immigrated to Canada around 1959 or so).  Not sure if any if is illegal or not but it is all stored away until I decide what to do with it. While the stuff is interesting in a historical way, I'd never put it out for viewing. But I  think these kinds of artifacts are important to preserve in the right context.  When I was 14 my newly divorced Mom (from my American dad) moved us to Dachau Germany where she had lived with her foster Mom (parents killed in war) after WWII (my mom had lived at the Dachau concentration camp which had been converted to a refugee camp for Germans as a young  girl for a couple of years). Seeing a concentration camp turned museum decades after the war had a huge impact on me. While it was an extremely negative piece of history, it had a greater impact in my understanding of genocide, human suffering and evil then it would  have if it had been torn down.and I read about it in a book.
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Villanelle

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Re: Is this string holder offensive?
« Reply #49 on: September 05, 2017, 12:52:50 AM »
Before I read Spartana's post, I was going to draw a WWII comparison.  Is a Nazi flag offensive?  Not in a museum, or perhaps are part of a WWII propaganda collection.  But as wall decor in someone's house?  Yup.

So I don't think the string holder needs to be smashed and obliterated from history.  But I think anyone who sets it in their home is just a "charming" objet d'art is either very naive or grossly insensitive.  Without the clear context of remembering history's ugliness, I don't think this thing has a place being displayed.