I’ve been hearing some rumblings of reclaiming the swastika symbol. As you may know, Hitler stole the swastika as a symbol for his Nazi party. This was due to a misunderstanding about what an Aryan is (and that misunderstanding is still being used against Indian Hindus today in incredibly racist ways, basically trying to tell Indians that all their wonderful philosophy was created by white people, which is ridiculous). I’ve written before about how the swastika has two very different meanings for two different sets of people.
If you go to India you will see a lot of swastikas. (Straight up and down rather than turned on its side as the Nazi version is). They are often included in images of Lord Ganesha. They represent good luck and balance. In the west they, unfortunately, represent hate and cruelty.
Now that the world is getting closer, these two groups of people are coming closer together. The Internet has made the world smaller. More and more people who view the swastika as a symbol of luck and happiness connect with people who view it as a symbol of hate and murder.
And it’s really unfair that Hitler stole this lovely symbol and used it for his own agenda.
A few years ago I would have said maybe it is time to reclaim the swastika symbol for Hinduism. To change those connotations. To teach people about what it originally meant. What it still means to billions of people.
However, I no longer think now is the time for that.
Since Trump won the American Presidency through playing on xenophobia and fanning the flames of hate of others, anti-semitism is on the rise again. There have been recent events of Jewish people being threatened using the swastika. It has been used to tell people that their own lives are in danger.We can’t tell those people that they need to accept us using the swastika all over the place regardless of how they have been tormented with it.
Not only that, but the horrors of the holocaust are not that far in the past. People my age had their grandparents tortured and murdered by people using the swastika symbol. Racists are still getting swastikas tattooed on themselves to represent their hate and intention to torment people who look different from themselves.
I hope that a time will come when the swastika can once again be associated with good luck and joy. That its connection with Hitler is forgotten. But now is not that time. It’s good to let people know that there are other meanings, so if they see a swastika at a Hindu temple or a Hindu event, it doesn’t scare them. Educating people in that way will help. But we cannot deny the way this symbol has been used and is still used today to instill fear.
Now is the time to rally to protect our Jewish friends. We must make them feel (and actually be) safe. We must let them know that we won’t place our desire to freely use a Hindu symbol above their right to feel safe.
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