Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The Political Life of Symbols

Carly Yuenger

On today's show we talk about how political symbols can take on a life of their own.

Our guest, Emiko Ohnuki-Tierney, talks about how flowers--a natural and innocent object-- came to be used by the Japanese Emperor, as a Nazi symbol, and by other dictators to violent ends.

These are extreme cases, but they point to some important questions. How do symbols take on political meanings? How do they change? Are we as individuals and as a nation responsible for watching over how political symbols are used in our name?

Even very traditional symbolic acts, like waving a flag, can change over time. For example, waving an American flag meant something very different during the Revolutionary war, during the Civil war, and on the Fourth of July. What does the flag mean to you today? Is it alright if it means something different for everyone? What are other examples of symbols whose meanings have changed over time? Add a comment below or leave us a voicemail at 1-877-globe-07.

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