April 28, 2010
Refried Bean Swastika
First of all, before this week, what would have been the likelihood of encountering the terms "swastika" and "refried beans" in the same sentence?
The painting of a swastika in refried beans on the Arizona State Capitol building strikes me as a study in ambiguity.
Up 'til now, painting a swastika on just about anything (and especially on a home or a synagogue) has been presumed to be an endorsement of what the swastika stands for and, therefore, automatically a "hate crime".
But the swastika on the Arizona State Capitol building has been presumed to be, not the work of Neo-Nazis or Nazi sympathizers, but rather an editorial comment on Arizona's newly-passed policy on illegal immigration enforcement. Nobody has called it a hate crime. It's hardly even been called vandalism.
So now, apparently, where the swastika is placed determines whether a hate crime has been committed. But what if the Governor of Arizona were Jewish? What then?
And how does the medium in which the swastika is drawn figure in? Up 'til now, spray paint has been the medium of choice for swastika artists. But the use of refried beans adds a whole new wrinkle.
Generally, vandalism involving a food or substance associated with a particular ethnicity is construed to be an affront to that ethnicity. What if a swastika had been formed of, say, fried rice? Or linguini? Or lutefisk? Or frogs? Or watermelons, or cotton-balls? What then?
So let's just say that a refried bean swastika on the Arizona State Capitol sends a "mixed message."