Magazine December 21, 2015, Issue

Symbols and Their Limits

Vietnam War protest near the Pentagon, October 21, 1967 (Wikipedia)
A caution against the yellow-ribbon culture

After the latest terror attacks in Paris, a hashtag arose: “#PrayForParis.” A symbol arose, too. Designed by Jean Jullien, a French illustrator, it was a peace sign with the Eiffel Tower in the middle. Like “#PrayForParis,” it was tweeted around the world.

Symbols have their place, of course, and they can serve many purposes: to console, recall, stir, etc. But sometimes they can seem awfully weak, even escapist.

The peace sign — the original one — was designed in 1958 by Gerald Holtom, an Englishman who had been a conscientious objector in World War II. Using the flag-semaphore alphabet, he placed the

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In This Issue

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Race, Class, Health

U.S. health progress is badly faltering because of racial, social, and economic disparities, according to many public-health specialists, both in the academy and in Washington, D.C. Proponents of this view ...
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The Spratly Showdown

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G.I. JAG

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Books, Arts & Manners

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The Week

 ‐ President Obama insisted that gathering in Paris to eat canapés and chat about the weather in the wake of the horrific Islamic State attack on that city constitutes a ...
Athwart

Of Carbon and Capricorn

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Poetry

ENTITLED WILDLIFE I’ve fought my way to easier days – So others should who find life hard. So why are there, beneath my gaze, So many single mothers in my yard? They even carp when ...
Happy Warrior

Apropos Appropriation

If there’s one thing American moviegoers want to see in their campy computer-generated Hollywood blockbusters, it’s ethnically authentic actors. Or so I imagine. Because of an unhealthy obsession with the ancient ...
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Letter

An Embracing America I loved “Civil-Rights Republicanism” by Theodore R. Johnson (November 2). I’m an immigrant. I believe that America is so great that it can embrace us wanna-be Americans and ...

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