It came out yesterday that Silver Star was once again using Nazi imagery on some of their products. This is hot on the heels of last year's Hoelzer Reich incident which turned stomaches everywhere. The bottom line for this should be that using imagery on products that anyone would wear is wrong. Silver Star Casting Company is a MMA "lifestyle" clothing company with association to the UFC. Some of the sport's biggest stars wear Silver Star shirts, from Georges St. Pierre, Anderson Silva, Rashad Evans and Quinton "Rampage" Jackson. It should also be noted that much like TapouT, Silver Star was acquired by an acquisition and brand-building company, Authentic Brands Group, and through that acquisition, has been placed in major retail outlets around the country.
Authentic Brands Group is a company that purchases budding companies for healthy sums of money, uses their wide distribution network to make the brand stronger, then in a calculated manner sell to the highest bidder. They were, of course, quick to issue a statement about how they do not support Nazi imagery and how Silver Star has acted quickly. You'll notice in the same article, Luke Burrett of Silver Star was also quick to respond, but throughout this whole thing, there is something missing.
An apology. Silver Star owes the world an apology, they need to take responsibility for their actions, regardless of the status of the designer with the company. Silver Star produced and distributed those t-shirts, hats and other products with Nazi symbols, there should be an apology. (Read after the break as to why they should apologize)
A few years ago, I met a wonderful old man through a class I took at my college. He was older, he stuttered, but there was something in his eyes you couldn't explain. That semester I had spent in a grueling class taught by a small, quiet Jewish woman that if you passed on the street you wouldn't take a second glance at, but when she got talking the vigor and emotion that she drew was something that will never leave me. When the class started, she counted forty heads and told us that by week three, there would be less than twenty, and by the end, probably ten. This was basically a literature credit for most, with an interesting topic; the Holocaust. What could be the harm? Two times a week for three months we were bombarded with some of the most depressing and horrifying text ever written, watched film from the forties taken in death camps of torture, death and disease. We saw human beings being treated like less-than-animals.
This wonderful old man came at the end of the semester, and it made sense as to why he was not presented to us earlier on; most had dropped out of the class, it wasn't worth the stress, the nightmares, the horror for three credits. Hell, to this day when I log into Amazon.com I am presented with the few Holocaust books I don't own, that is how persistent this class is. The man spoke quietly and started off jovial, telling us all about his wonderful children and grandchildren, and watching them grow up. He was happy they didn't have to endure what he had to. He was a survivor of the notorious Auschwitz concentration camp.
That was the darkness you saw behind his eyes. He wept as he spoke, explaining the things that he saw, the desperation, pain and suffering. The total depravity of the Nazi guards was enough to make the most seasoned horror and gore movie fan who thought they had seen and heard it all cringe and get goosebumps. This was real, this happened to real people. One story always stuck with me, and it relates to Silver Star using a Totenkopf one on of their shirts. The Totenkopf was the "death skull" associated with Hitler's elite guard, the Stabswache, which later turned into a group history will always remember, the Schutzstaffel (SS). The SS was put in complete charge of Hitler's death camps, forming the SS-Totenkopfverbände (do you see why the Totenkopf is offensive yet?). A group of SS guards was pushing some of the prisoners to see how far they could be pushed, and how blurred the line could get. There was a pool, engulfed with flames, and along the sides of the pool was a few newborn babies near the edge. Lined up behind the pool on the other side was a group of women and children with guns pointed at them. Our speaker was to choose to push the babies into the flaming pool or be responsible for the execution of twenty or so women and children. Understanding the odds of a newborn surviving in a death camp, and sparing them further pain, he made the most difficult decision of his life and the women and children lived.
He had to stop speaking at this point, and at this point, he refused to speak any further about his experience in Auschwitz. He rounded out his talk by explaining what he learned, that hatred does nothing for the human race and he learned what was valuable to him. He continued to talk about his grandchildren and how every day he sees them he is reminded of all of the good in the world, he is able to forget just a little bit of the pain, suffering and anguish he had to endure to survive to that day.
This is why I feel like simply pulling a few offensive t-shirts and claiming they were "clip art" is not good enough (What clip art gallery contains Nazi propaganda?). The symbol that was used was a symbol of extreme hatred, violence and prejudice and belongs nowhere but the pages of history as a lesson for future generations. Silver Star is responsible for every t-shirt, hat, hoodie and banner that they produce, and a company at this level should have some sort of vetting process before sending a design into mass production. Do not let this rest at "Silver Star pulled the shirts, whew." They have not taken responsibility for this, they are just sweeping it under the table.