A Wild Blue Blunder?

Air Force Emblem

The Air Force revealed its new slogan and emblem a couple of weeks ago. I just found out about it from the snarkholes at Boing Boing.

Air Force Emblem

I didn’t get what the snickering was all about, and it bugged me enough to go figure it out. This is what I learned:

In German, “above all” is “uber alles“–as in “Deutschland über alles“–as in the German national anthem.

The ridiculing of the Air Force seems misplaced.

It’s worth noting that Deutschland, Deutschland über alles predates Nazi Germany–just as the USA’s national anthem predates several regrettable periods in our history. (The line about “the land of the free” was written by a slave owner while slavery was still constitutional, and it was adopted as the official anthem in 1931 while racial segregation was still legally practiced in many parts of the country.)

The Nazis kept the first stanza of the German anthem, which begins “Deutschland, Deutschland über alles,” but they dropped the rest and added their own racist lyrics. Imagine that for awhile there was a popular Jim Crow segregationist version of The Star Spangled Banner, that only retained the first stanza. Would that permanently disrepute on the original anthem?

(Apparently a racist song, Jump Jim Crow, was once mistaken for our national anthem. This isn’t just crazy conjecture, you know.)

So the “Above All” slogan isn’t necessarily original, but it shouldn’t be associated exclusively with Nazi Germany either. Should it be associated with the US Air Force? That’s not for me to say. But if Nazism is the first thing that comes to mind when some people hear the slogan, it suggest that the Air Force could have done their homework better.

The first thing that came to my mind was the Van Halen logo.

BTW: I thought I’d invented the word “snarkhole” just now, but I was wrong.

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