Veteran’s Day 2010 was a time for gratitude and remembrance. For some it was about misplaced patriotism when the Google Doodle showed an American flag draped over ‘Google’, obscuring the red ending ‘e’ and making it look like the Muslim crescent moon. In a bizarre case of fanaticism cloaked in the guise of patriotism, some internet users convinced themselves that Google (and hence the entire Islamic world) was lurking behind the American flag. Was the Google Doodle sending subliminal Islamic messages? Is Google anti-American? Is the Google Doodle desecrating the American flag by inserting a Muslim red crescent moon? So strong was the uproar that ‘Google Doodle Controversy’ is now an internet meme.
Would-be patriots will be pleased to note that today, November 12, 2010, the ubiquitous Google trademark is back to normal with red ending ‘e’ fully and properly displayed. However the Google Doodle Controversy incident (was it an incident or a coincidence?) brings some concerns to light.
How extreme can one be and still retain one’s sanity? Every group has extremists, but seeing red crescents in a Google Doodle is kind of Rorschach, isn’t it? It’s like the 70s when pop psychologists thought every curved shape was a phallic symbol or meant to represent a penis. Or the 80s when zealots heard Satanic messages in record albums played backwards (how do you play a record backwards? I never could figure it out.) When do we stop thinking patriotism and start worrying about Paranoid Schizophrenia?
But of more concern to me is the notion embedded in the Google Doodle Controversy furor that ‘our’ American flag is a ‘sacred symbol’. Don’t get me wrong. I love our flag. I get choked up when I see it wave. But a sacred symbol? No. I worship the God of my understanding, not a flag. Sacred symbols include a crucifix, cross, Star of David, Ankh, Wheel of Life, mandela, Swastika (not the Nazi perversion, the Hindu Swastika) and yes a crescent moon. If anyone’s ‘sacred symbol’ was desecrated by the Veteran’s Day Google Doodle, it was the Islamic crescent moon.
In fact, the Muslim faith reminds us that those who practice monotheistic religions are ‘forbidden to worship a symbol’ or ‘graven image’. If you claim to follow one God, you cannot simultaneously worship a secular object (aka flag). And all this uproar takes away from the real meaning of Veteran’s Day. It takes our focus off from what it should be on; the remembrance of and gratitude to our military.
So the furor is over. The flag is down from the Google Doodle and we can all relax because the final Google ‘e’ no longer looks like a red crescent. Nothing more see, so go back to your lives, Citizens. But I’m worried that this kind of bigotry and ignorance is indicative of a larger problem. A problem of intolerance and hate. Mass hysteria is a dangerous force. It has an eerie ‘War of the Worlds’ ring to it. Mass hysteria over something conjured up in an overactive imagination is terrifying.