Source: Gifter Photos via Twitter via Gothamist

Source: Gifter Photos via Twitter via Gothamist

If you went to Coney Island or Brighton Beach on Sunday afternoon, you might have noticed a plane tugging a banner with a swastika emblazoned on it that also read “peace + love proswastika.org.” According to a report by the Village Voice, the banner was flown by a religious sect known as the Raelians in an attempt to “rehabilitate” the swastika symbol.

As the plane soared over the beaches of Coney Island, Rockaway Beach and Long Island, people took to Twitter to post pictures and express disbelief over the bizarre message floating in the sky.

Erin Armo, a loyal Johnny Depp fan according to her Twitter page, was one of the stunned witnesses.

“At the beach a plane dragging a banner that says “swastika = peace + love proswastika.org ” just flew by…what the actual f,” Armo tweeted.

The Village Voice took on the task of answering Armo’s legitimate question:

Good question, young lady! We’ll tell you what the actual F. Sunday was the fourth annual “Swastika Rehabilitation Day,” according to ProSwastika, the site on the aforementioned banner. The gist of the “holiday,” if we can call it that, is that before the swastika was a Nazi symbol, it was a Sanskrit one, and it’s simply not fair to let the mean old Nazis appropriate the whole thing.

We’ll let the ProSwastikateers take it from here:

The word swastika is derived from the Sanskrit svastika (in Devanagari, स्वस्तिक), meaning any lucky or auspicious object, and in particular a mark made on persons and things to denote good luck. It is composed of su- (cognate with Greek ευ-, “eu-”), meaning “good, well,” and asti, a verbal abstract to the root as “to be”; svasti thus means “well-being.” The suffix -ka forms a diminutive, and svastika might thus be translated literally as “little thing associated with well-being”.The swastika symbol is one of the oldest symbols on the Earth and can be found in all religions and traditions, on all continents!

Despite the followers of Raelism supporting bizarre notions like clitoris rehabilitation centers in Burkina Faso, cloning humans and interactions with aliens at volcano parks, I wonder if they have a small point.

The Nazis were a group of pure evil and they appropriated a symbol, albeit a reversed one, from an otherwise peaceful origin. Should this symbol now stand for tyranny and evil for the rest of time? The answer is probably yes.

There is a reason that the sight of a swastika is hated and singled out and that is because as a society, we can’t forget how only a few generations ago, the madness of Nazism swept across Europe, nearly destroying it.

Last month, we reported on a reverse swastika drawn on a Courier-Life news box in Midwood, and while the assumption was that it was the work of a hateful punk it could have very well been a local Raelist or Buddhist. Either way, the confusion reflects naivety of the Raelists in their effort to “rehabilitate” the swastika. They should probably wait a few thousand years before pulling stunts like this again.

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  • Phish

    how about we hold the greedy company who decided to fly this hate symbol over a largely jewish borough accountable…
    the plane advertising company is a private company, freedom of speech doesn’t apply to them, they could have easily rejected the banner.

  • vintagejames

    I have read that a “reverse” swastika is an old symbol of peace, love, whatever. That may be the case, but it may be best just to leave it alone, forget it and pick something else as a symbol. The swastika in any shape has been tarnished forever and it is past time abandon it or create controversy.

    • http://www.flickr.com/knightmare6 Knightmare6

      I was taught it meant either purity and unity as a kid

      • Tuth

        Reminiscing about life in the Hitler youth again???? :-P

    • Speeder

      So if for some reason, North Korea or Iran decides to be a*holes and adopt a Star of David with 8 corners, an up-side-down Olympic symbol, or the U.S. flag with different colors as their symbol, then we should abandon them?

  • Tuth

    It would have been more appropriate if the banner was flowed by a flying saucer since the Raelians are a UFO cult.

    Also, from what I understand they are into swinging and sex orgies so keep a look out for that.

    • http://www.flickr.com/knightmare6 Knightmare6

      Um… where’s the recruitment center?

      • Tuth

        I believe they originated out in Korea or Japan.

        • Maxwell Smart

          I heard they started in France when a “reporter” questioned the “life forms” he saw disembark a spacecraft

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

    This is really quite immature, as are the Raelians in general.

    I will add insensitive, though I think that is quite obvious to everyone.

    • http://www.flickr.com/photos/lisanne001 Lisanne!

      Except the Raelians, who are too immature to get that.

  • Peggy Kaplin

    They’re lucky no one messed with their plane! Too soon, dudes, too soon.

  • No name given

    There was a building in my home town on Long Island,built around 1910,that had one in reverse. The structure itself was quite ornate,but as a kid I thought it meant something bad. I’m not jewish so I never thought it was appropriate to bring any attention to it. Hadn’t thought about it until I read this story. I’m glad to know that it once had a positive meaning.

    • steve

      Upon arriving in VietNam in 1967 i noticed some of the natives wearing what looked like swastikas.Upon questioning those wearing it turns out to be some kind of buddist or other Asian religous symbol totally unrelated to Nazis

  • Andrew Kent

    I once had a set of old books, a collection of Rudyard Kipling’s works printed well before the Nazi era, that had swastikas imprinted on each of the bindings. I learned that the symbol related to Kipling’s connection with India, where the symbol had an entirely different meaning. While I think these wannabee Raelians are exploiting the controversy for their own gain, I have no problem with them offending millions of New Yorkers by defending the original symbol so long as they are willing to take the heat. But, then, I wouldn’t want to be the pilot flying that plane when someone who didn’t get the word tries to shoot it down.
    http://www.kipling.org.uk/facts_swastik.htm

    • BrooklynBus

      When I was in Israel visiting a cemetery someone noticed that some of the headstones had swastikas on them. We were told that the headstones predated Hitler and the symbol was 2,000 years old. No one there was offended by them because of those circumstances.

  • Edward Bellamy

    The National Socialist German Workers Party did not call their symbol a “swastika,” they called it a Hakenkreuz (hooked cross) because it was a type of cross. German National Socialists did not call themselves “Nazis” and they used their hooked cross to represent crossed S-letters for their name: “socialists.” See the work of the symbologist Dr. Rex Curry. http://rexcurry.net/swastika.html

    That is why the German symbol is turned 45 degrees from the horizontal and always pointed in the S-direction. GNSers had a lot of similar stylized alphabetical symbolism, for the “SS” division, the “SA,” the “NSV,” and even VW (the letters V and W combined for “volkswagen”). German National Socialists did not refer to themselves as “Nazis,” nor as “Fascists.” Some popular authors probably know that GNSers did not refer to themselves as Nazis nor Fascists, yet those authors never actually explain or emphasize the point, and that means that many Americans can read books by many popular authors and remain clueless about the fact that GNSers did not call themselves nazis nor fascists. Many people are so ignorant that they do not even know what German National Socialists actually called themselves. Many people are so ignorant that they think German National Socialists called themselves nazis and fascists, because those are the only words many Americans have ever heard or spoken in that regard in their entire lives. Many posts are evidence of the ignorance mentioned here. That is why they never comprehend that the hakenkreuz was used as S-letters for “socialism” because they do not know what Nazis called themselves. http://rexcurry.net/swastika-hakenkreuz-oxford-english-dictionary.html

    In that sense, many people who claim that they want to defend the “swastika” only continue to defame it by using the wrong term for the German symbol and by failing to distinguish the German symbol by its orientation, alteration, and alphabetical symbolism for S-letters. They are vulgus profanum. http://rexcurry.net/swastika3swastika.jpg

    Anyone who wants to “save the swastika” from proposed laws to ban and criminalize its display, needs to stop defaming the swastika and start explaining that the German symbol was a hooked cross and used as S-letters for “socialism.”

    Read more: http://www.hankeringforhistory.com/adolf-hitler-and-the-history-of-the-swastika/#ixzz2ZvB3crVc

  • nyckat

    Aw jeeze, and the star of David was ripped off from the Pagans- a symbol is just that a symbol!! I do have to admit flying this one over our area where so many holocaust survivors live is in rather bad taste though!! I help care for an Alzheimer’s neighbor that simply locked doors can send him back to days where Hitler ruled..so sad, glad he wasn’t out to see swastikas flying high in the sky!! That would have really sent him over the edge!!

    • Murry

      Whatever this symbol represents it just conjures up too many bad memories for people. I’m sure that the group that had this flown over Brooklyn knew exactly what they were doing. There are many symbols that can be use to represent these groups, perhaps a twisted jackass is more appropriate.

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