The swastika was long considered to be a sacred and auspicious symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. It was adopted by the Nazi Party and Nazi Germany prior to World War II. In many Western countries, the swastika has been highly stigmatized because of its use in and association with Nazism. It is unfortunate that this symbol, which stood for centuries as a sign of good luck, was hijacked to become a representation of hate and genocide. It continues to be commonly used as a religious symbol in Hinduism and Buddhism.
The confederate battle flag was a symbol of those opposing what they felt was federal overreaching and selective tariffs — the impetus of the U.S. Civil War. While no one today would argue against the injustice done to those held in slavery, the KKK (and other wackos) and media hype have now redefined the flag as a symbol of racism and hatred. This obfuscates its use as a representation of opposition to the overreach of the ever-expanding role of a federal government that violates freedoms it was established to protect.
Similarly, to most Americans, the Stars and Stripes represents the principles denoted by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence: “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” To others, the flag has become a symbol of the U.S. government, which is charged with protecting these rights, a protection that many today find lacking.
I suggest that we stop arguing over symbols and return to a discussion of the underlying principles of liberty and representative government. It is far too easy for the use of symbols to be misinterpreted even by those who agree on the principles.