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With all the debate about Paula Dean using the n-word, an important point is overlooked -- that people are not learning why something is so offensive and dangerous and should be relegated to the trash bin of history instead of being used lightly.

If you want to know what will happen in a few years, here's a good example:  Thailand has a new cultural phenomenon.

Hitler.

It's been called "Hitler Chic" in the media.  Bike helmets are being made in SS style, temporary tattoos with images of swastikas are being made, and teddy bears doing the Nazi salute.  There are T-shirts with Hitler dressed as Ronald McDonald.  A school had a Nazi-themed fashion show.  Another school's students dressed as SS soldiers during a sports day parade in Chang Mai.  It is spreading to other Asian countries like Taiwan, Japan, and Korea.  Hong Kong, the king of knock-off merchandise, has stores decorating their counters with Nazi flags.  (Keep in mind, the "wheel of life" is a major symbol of Buddhism and is called a "manghi".  But there is a big difference between how it is presented in that context and as a Nazi flag.)

As you may have guessed, this isn't going over well with everybody.  Itzhak Shoham is the Israeli ambassador to Thailand, and he reacted pretty much as you would expect, saying it "hurts the feelings of every Jew and every civilized person."

Some are saying this is just the result of lack of education about WWII for Thais, as they were largely unaffected by the war.  After all, history is not one of the key subjects on the Thai syllabus.  That's bullshit.  The Thais are trolling the world.  Just last week, a fried chicken restaurant in Bangkok changed its name to Hitler.  Patterned on Kentucky Fried Chicken, the logo features Colonel Sanders redrawn to look like Hitler.  Pics started circulating on Twitter, and KFC is angrily denouncing the place and threatening to sue.  "We find it extremely distasteful and are considering legal action since it is an infringement of our brand trademark and has nothing to do with us."  Then it was revealed that the pictures are from a while ago and the restaurant has changed its name.  This was done just to piss people off.

Thailand's cultural elite is basically going, "U MAD, BRO?"  They say it is just misplaced humor because the kids aren't taught about the Holocaust in school.  One blogger was saying everyone complaining has simply lost their sense of humor.  "Why is this different from the West's obsession with Che Guevara?"  (For the record, I have always objected to the iconography of Che and Chairman Mao and others.)  But not everyone feels that way.  Varakorn Samakoses is the former deputy minister for education and current president of Dhurakij Pundit University in Bangkok.  He wants there to be an emphasis on history in the curriculum.  "Kids are much more interested in the present and the future, they are not taught to appreciate or take seriously what happened in the past.  Even teachers are ignorant of these issues.  This is something that should change.  History should be on the the important parts of the syllabus.  Children should know what goes on because history always repeats itself."

...as the world spins on into its enlightened new millenium.

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