A newly-elected town councillor has defended her decision to wear a t-shirt bearing a swastika symbol two years ago.
Rosie Diamond, an independent councillor for Briton Ferry Town Council, posted a photograph to her personal Facebook profile of her wearing a vest emblazoned with a swastika in May 2019.
She said the t-shirt is a “piece of official merchandise” for the punk band the Sex Pistols and was given as a present to her when she was 16 years old.
Ms Diamond said she was 17 when the photograph was taken and insisted she is “not associated with Nazism in any way”.
Ms Diamond was elected as a representative for Brynhyfryd on Thursday July 29. She received a total of 101 votes, 17 more than Labour candidate Gareth Rice. The turnout rate was 19% of the electorate.
She said she studied the history of Nazi Germany in school and college and now “completely” understands “the history that the swastika carries and would never display that top”.
The swatiska was originally an ancient religious symbol in Eurasia and was used a symbol of divinity and spirituality in Hinduism and Buddishm. Up until the 1930s in the west, it was used to mean good luck. However, it was used by Adolf Hilter and his Nazi party as used as an emblem of the Aryan race. As a result of the Second World War and the Holocaust, the swatiska is often regarded by as an emblem of facism and anti-semitism and its use remains deeply controversial.
However, during the 1970s the swatiska resurfaced during the 1970s punk movement – including designer Vivienne Westwood’s controversial ‘Destroy’ t-shirt, which was worn by Sex Pistols frontman Johnny Rotten on numerous occaisions. You can read about what happened when punk came to Wales here.
Ms Diamond said: “I wore this particular T-shirt maybe two or three times before displaying it on my bedroom wall for a few weeks as I thought it was provocative and anti-establishment.
“I don’t even have it anymore. In this context, the swastika has not been used with hate, I wore it only for the reason that it was punk as it was the image I was going for.
“The punk movement is well known for being anti-authoritarian, promoting diversity and abolishing racism and hate, it’s the bread and butter of the genre. The Sex Pistols have written songs regarding abortion and the monarchy and have no connections to hate or discrimination.
“Their manager, Malcom McLaren was actually Jewish and his partner at the time, famous fashion designer Vivienne Westwood designed this T-shirt in 1977.
Ms Diamond added: “In my opinion, it’s incredibly naive to absorb the image at face value and not do any further research into why the symbol is being used on the shirt.
“I’m not associated with Nazism in any way and I believe the Holocaust is the worst thing to ever happen to humanity.
“I wholeheartedly apologise to anyone I have offended with this T-shirt and would denounce anyone who would believe in what the shirt stood for. I regret ever owning this T-shirt and I was young and wore it for no other reason but because it is the official merchandise of my favourite band.”
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