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.