Hailing the Peace Sign, Time Smears the Cross With the Klan

The April 7 edition of Time includes an article by Richard Lacayo hailed the peace symbol, "50 years old and still working." It was the ready-made icon for the sixties counterculture. But then Lacayo decided to compare it to the Christian cross, and things got ugly:

There were people who didn't like the symbol any better than they liked the movements it represented. They saw it as an inverted broken cross or "the footprint of the American chicken." But it kept spreading through the culture. Like the Christian cross, which has served the purposes of soup kitchens and Crusaders, the Sisters of Mercy and the Ku Klux Klan, it was adaptable. Over time, it evolved from its narrow association with nuclear disarmament into an insignia for countercultures of all kinds. Hippies made it a sort of all-purpose symbol of peacefulness. The environmental group Greenpeace, the militant wing of flower power, adopted it for its eco-defense campaigns.

While the Klan and the burning cross certainly go together -- and the Klan definitely saw itself as righteous Christians -- this is still a bit of free association that burns and singes the vast majority of Christians (including black ones) who loathe the Klan.

But then, in his occasional episodes of rhetorical excess, Lacayo has bumbled the comparisons to Christianity before. At the end of 2004, he promoted Michael Moore's idea that he was like Jesus for making Fahrenheit 911:

“[Michael] Moore...says that his film, too, resonates with Christ’s message. The Passion of the Christ emphasized Christ’s final hours and, for the most part, left out scenes of his ministry. ‘But my film dovetails with the rest of Jesus’ life,’ Moore told Time last week. ‘It connects to his message about questioning those in authority, of being a man of peace, of loving your neighbor.’” — Time’s Richard Lacayo in the magazine’s December 27/January 3 year-end double issue, juxtaposing the left-wing Moore with actor/director Mel Gibson as runners-up for Time’s “Person of the Year” award.

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