History of the peace symbol

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/07/30/history-of-the-peace-symbol.html


And of course in the time, you had preachers thundering from the pulpit how it was a broken cross and anyone who displayed it was proclaiming hate for all Christians and would surely go to Hell.

I was there. I remember.

And I knew about ND then, too. So did the Reverend. He didn’t believe it. Both explanations seem implausible on the surface. I simply have yet to see a better explanation for the peace symbol.


I’ve always doubted this story, just because it looks so much like folk etymology, but it’s in Wikipedia, so it must be true.


I never understood why the Christians adopted the cross as their symbol anyway. I guess it kinda makes sense as a hangover from that whole Holy Roman Empire thing…

Bill Hicks summed up my thoughts pretty concisely. ( then he wanders off on a Kennedy tangent )


I thought the circle was for eternal.

1 Like

I thought it was made like this


I always thought it was the foot of the dove of peace. I like my interpretation better.

1 Like

i’ve always heard it started with ND, even way back in the 70s. then the 80s came along and religious fundies tried to spin that whole “upside down broken cross” thing. the dove’s foot also makes sense, but ND is the explanation i remember hearing first.


The reactionary assholes of the John Birch society dubbed it “the footprint of the American chicken.”
It’s actually pretty funny, from a warped perspective, but also because of them being clueless enough to think that taking a public stand against peace was a good idea.


I remember back when David Icke declared himself the son of God and comedians made jokes about him changing the symbol.

Icke was a goalkeeper. He doesn’t like crosses.


I still see a number of fundamentalist websites that “explain” the meaning of various symbols (spoiler alert: they’re all “Satanic”) that use the “broken cross” explanation. That’s always struck me as weird, that American Christian conservatism had become so unmoored from its roots that it is literally presenting the idea of peace as antithetical to “Christian” values…


The affluent high school of the already affluent suburb I lived in made national news in 1987 when they mistakenly decorated the school with the Mercedes emblem for “hippie day”.


It’s part of the American Evangelicalism’s weird obsession with the End Times. The idea is that the Antichrist will be a (fake) “man of peace”, gaining power through false promises of peace. This, then, has mutated to the point where these people are automatically suspicious of and hostile towards anyone who pursues goals of peace.

Unsurprisingly, as Fred Clark of the Slacktivist fame writes, the Biblical basis of this weird belief is extremely tenuous, to put it charitably.




I’ve heard so many origin stories for the peace symbol that I don’t believe any of them. It’s the JFK Assasination of logos.

My fave is that it’s a dove’s footprint in a teardrop. Boohoo.

1 Like

When the shadow’s just right, it is an abstraction of Bertrand Russell’s face:

Wow, that long ago? While there were still dinosaurs walking the planet?

(I think I was already in college, in the antediluvian 70s, when I learned about the specific “ban the bomb” meaning; before then I’d mainly seen it used more generically as a peace symbol.)

1 Like

hey man, chill out. some people treat the 1970s like it’s prehistory these days. it certainly doesn’t feel like 50 years ago to me, but when you say it was a half-century ago it really starts to feel like ancient history.

That was my point.

For a long time I thought the Conflict logo was related to the CND. It would make sense, as they were very much a peace punk band, but I was wrong.

(It actually stands for anarchy, autonomy, and nihilism)

Now that’s something I didn’t know.