‘Offensive’ Imagery of St Michael Defeating Satan Is ‘Reminiscent of George Floyd’

jakatics/iStock/Getty Images Plus
jakatics/iStock/Getty Images Plus

The Guardian has promoted a petition calling for British honours depicting the victory of St Michael the Archangel over Satan to be redesigned, as the “offensive” imagery is “reminiscent of the recent murder of George Floyd”.

The Order of St Michael and St George is bestowed at the pleasure of the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, and “recognises service in a foreign country, or in relation to foreign and Commonwealth affairs” — typically of a non-military nature — with members holding the rank of Knight Grand Cross (GCMG), Knight Commander (KCMG), or Companion (CMG).

The 202-year-old order is now under fire, however, as the insignia associated with it depict a fair-skinned St Michael “trampling” a darker-skinned Satan  — despite this such imagery being very long-established in Christian iconography, being rooted in the description of the Archangel’s victory over the Devil in the Bible.

“This is a highly offensive image, it is also reminiscent of the recent murder of George Floyd by the white policeman in the same manner presented here in this medal,” reads the petition to redesign the honour, attributed to one Tracy Reeve.

“We the undersigned are calling for this medal to completely redesigned in a more appropriate way and for an official apology to be given for the offence it has given,” she adds.

george floyd

St. Michael statue. Detail from St Michael church at Hamburg, Germany. (LedLopezHdz/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

The Guardian seemingly had no difficulty finding people taking the faintly ridiculous, almost prank-like demand seriously, quoting no less a personage than Sir Simon Woolley, founder-director of the Operation Black Vote campaign, as claiming that the “original image may have been of St Michael slaying Satan, but the figure has no horns or tail and is clearly a black man.”

Sir Simon did not mention that the Satan figure in the Order’s iconography does have giant bat wings and the lower body of a gigantic serpent, however.

“This is the past that informs the present, and that’s why it symbolises everything that Black Lives Matter are campaigning for,” Sir Simon continued.

“The challenge is to acknowledge it and own it, but the opportunity is to put it right. It is easy to get rid of an image, but I would like root-and-branch restructuring, because most of the institutions created by the empire are still there,” he suggested.

“For most black and brown people, there is nothing good about the empire. Most people will see this as an image of George Floyd on a global scale and a symbol of white supremacy.”

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