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Many people are outraged by symbols of Nazism, and justifiably so. With my ancestral Jewish background I share those views, as do a vast majority of Americans. Yet, many people do not hold on to these views while talking about the Soviet Union and the various symbolisms of the former powerhouse. The bottom line; is the Soviet emblem offensive? While the question in essence is one of opinion, that doesn't rule out cold hard facts. (continue below)
Short answer; it isn't. My grandfather served in the Cuban Missile Crisis, and that may be the biggest conflict between the US and the Soviet Union to date, yet the hammer and sickle is still not troublesome to me at all. Why? It represents much more than Joseph Stalin, or the USSR in general. The iconic symbol has been used by many communist countries and parties since the birth of the notorious union. Here are all of the countries that use, or contain parties that use at least derivatives of Soviet Imagery:
Austria (KPÖ · KI)
Belgium (Flanders · Wallonia)
Bosnia and Herzegovina
Britain (CPB · NCPB · CPS)
Denmark (DKP · KPiD)
Ireland (CPI · WPI)
Italy (PdCI · PRC)
Russia (CPRF · RCWP-RPC)
That's a startling amount of countries, including none other than the greatest ally of the United States; the United Kingdom. While the band of nations themselves do not officially recognize Soviet imagery to be an official representative of their nations, parties within her majesties' border do. The most notable of which is the CPGB or the Communist Party of Great Britain. A party that endorses the Labour Party as an ally, the equivalent to the Democratic Party of the United States. The Labour party is also in favour of a sizeable amount of the ideas the CPGB has to offer.
While under Soviet Rule, more death prevailed than in any other country in the history of mankind. But, the iconic hammer and sickle is not exclusive to the Soviet Union, and thus is not just a symbol for the country. It is a symbol for communism, an ideology that many people from around the world support today. From Russia, to China, to England, to our own US, this flag is flown for a different reason than it was 25 years ago, and things change over time. The hammer and sickle are simply not offensive.