Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Biggles Defies The Swastika

Following the story of the 7 year old snatched from her family home by child welfare operatives, because she showed up at school with a swastika on her arm, I notice that in amongst all the outrage, anger, brouhaha and general pissiness there is one perspective completely missing, and that is the perspective of the 7 year old. She drew the swastika in question herself - not one of her parents as some of the more hysterical commenters are wont to believe. So what of the child's view of the world?

By this, I don't mean the perspective that the protective Jonathan Rosenthal (aside: how did such a complete wanker get to be a lawyer in the first place?) takes it upon himself to have on her behalf. No, I mean nobody seems to be thinking back to their own childhood, to recover something of the real perspective and outlook on life of a 7 year old.

And so.... a confession. When I was that age, I drew swastikas too. I had no clue what they meant, no clue what they really stood for, except that they represented the bad guys. You see, I grew up as the last of six kids, with a diet of hand-me-down boys fiction from the 1950s and 1960s, among which was a large collection of Biggles books. I could read and enjoy these adventure stories long before I had any worldly wisdom or historical knowledge. I remember after reading the first two books (set in WW I with Biggles in the Royal Flying Corps) complaining bitterly to my mother that the place names were all French, and what was up with that?

So I happily doodled RAF roundels and Luftwaffe crosses and swastikas in the corners of books, blisfully unaware of the wider significance. Should I have been taken away? Seems like today, I'd be in serious danger of that. And yet my family wasn't racist, at least any more than the norm for middle class England of the day. And I turned out all right, even to the extent that I cringe at what some of those norms of middle class England were, and have left them far behind where they belong.

Sometimes adults need to remember that a child sees things just as they are, without the lens of history, perspective, meaning, significance, or interpretation. And in the end, when we introduce those adult prisms to the child's world we do far more harm than good. Because then we get guilt, fear, hang-ups, and in this extreme case the break-up of the family unit. Left to itself, this situation would most likely resolve naturally. And if not, then the time to deal with the child is when she's old enough to understand the meaning behind what she did.

Are the parents' beliefs odious in this case? No doubt. Is it tempting to punish them by taking the child away, as Rosenthal advocated in those glorious CTV moments? Sure.

But in the end it's the child who's been punished for something she did whose meaning she is likely completely unaware of and whose significance she could never grasp. The Rosenthal's of the world need to learn to stop, take a breath, take a step back and let nature take its course. And above all the left needs to take it's collective mitts off our children and let them be children again.

But to do that they'd have to step out of the pink glow of Warren's World, where all First Nations people are sober, upright citizens, with no social problems, and all lower-class white people are drunken, knuckle-dragging skinhead racist bastards. In short, they'd have to encounter reality, and if Rosenthal is typical of the breed, they're a long, long, long way from there right now.

UPDATE: I do stand corrected, by the left's own hate blogger CC, in as much as it seems the parents re-drew the offending emblem in marker after it was washed off. That does put a rather different complexion on things; however, my point still stands. From the girl's perspective, it's impossible for her to know the meaning behind and deeper associations of the swastika. This was a moment for intervention and education, not for snatching the child away and asking the deeper questions later.