Identity politics is a tough business: you can’t take a step these days without offending someone, and that applies even to the Leftists who have appointed themselves the guardians of acceptable opinion. The Hanover County Public School district in Virginia on Wednesday apologized for the logo of their Unified Professional Learning Conference, which was supposed to be all about promoting “equity,” that is, the Left’s privileging of its favored groups. Instead, the logo strongly resembles the official emblem of Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist (Nazi) Party. Jewish organizations have protested, and aghast district officials have hastily withdrawn the logo and apologized. They have the usual Leftist blind spots, and those blind spots are showing.
Yes, I have seen the Hanover Schools new swastika-like logo.
Let’s hope an explanation and apology comes soon. pic.twitter.com/GaI6yShIm7
— Rachel for Delegate (@RachelAnneLevy) August 3, 2022
This entire incident is full of unseen hazards. The conference’s logo called to mind the hooked cross, which most people in the U.S. refer to as the “swastika,” but that usage, in turn, offends Hindus and Buddhists, for whom the swastika has been a sacred symbol for many centuries before Hitler was born. When Hanover County Public School Superintendent Michael Gill apologized Wednesday, he called the Nazi emblem a “swastika,” apparently not realizing that in doing so he was offending yet another group:
One of our teachers, designed the logo intending for it to represent four hands and arms grasping together – a symbol of unity for our all-county professional learning conference. Nothing more. While we are confident that the logo was created without any ill-intent, we understand that this has deeply upset members of our staff and community who see the logo as resembling a swastika. We have stopped distributing the t-shirts that include the logo, and we are working to remove it from all conference materials. We are deeply sorry for this mistake and for the emotions that the logo has evoked by its semblance to a swastika and, by extension, to the atrocities that were committed under its banner. Unquestionably, we condemn anything associated with the Nazi regime in the strongest manner possible.
Unquestionably? Not quite. Gill’s condemnation didn’t satisfy anyone. Among the unmollified was Rachel Levy, a far-Left candidate for the Virginia House of Delegates with children in the Hanover County Public Schools, who tweeted: “Note that Superintendent Mike Gill blames a teacher. Unacceptable. And typical–what I mean when I say we have unaccountable leadership. NOTHING like that logo goes out or gets approved without his or his PR guy Chris Whitley’s say so.”
Levy was sure that this was all because of right-wing encroachment in once-beautiful blue Virginia: “And someone *just* sent me this pic of a Youngkin yard sign in a classroom at Hanover High School where the PD sessions took place, where the the [sic] new logo was sited [sic].” Levy also noted: “And this is on the heels of Hanover’s new School Board member saying he’s going to govern & make decisions as a ‘Christian conservative’ while trying to proselytize a Jewish woman and calling the President of the Hanover NAACP an ‘angry Black woman.’”
However, the conservatives-are-all-secretly-Nazis bit, as common as it is on the Left, is unlikely to be the problem here. Conservative Christians are for the most part strongly pro-Israel and abhor anti-Semitism. The problem is a perfect storm of Leftist hypersensitivity to racial and ethnic offenses real and imagined (and usually the latter), combined with an increasingly common Leftist anti-Semitism (witness the meteoric rise of Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib) that has doubtless rendered many Leftists insensitive to slights against Jews, who after all, must be boycotted, divested from, and sanctioned for all of Israel’s trumped-up and imagined evils.
Elicia Brand, who is the founder of a parents’ rights group, Army of Parents, and mother of three children in Loudoun County Public Schools, declared: “Our public institutions should be doing all they can to protect their Jewish communities. They are not. Instead, they are feeding into dangerous rhetoric and actions against Jews. They are discounting Jews as a historically marginalized community and ignoring their lived experiences.” That’s true, and the responsibility must be placed squarely at the feet of the Left, among whom an increasingly open anti-Semitism has become fashionable.
But above all, this entire incident is a lesson in the minefields of identity politics. When victimhood is your currency, people are going to take offense at the slightest provocation, or no provocation at all, and no matter how hard you try, you’re never going to avoid crossing the line (which is constantly moving anyway) and offending someone. That’s especially true when you’re not really worried about offending some groups, just the ones the Left has anointed with protected victim status. The Hanover County Public School district has just shown us once again how the Left’s rules work.