For most Americans, it's an instinctive reminder of hatred and a historic horror. But centuries before the Nazis hijacked it, the swastika was an ancient symbol of good luck, prosperity and creativity for Buddhists, Hindus, Jains and a sacred symbol for Navajos and Mayans--who used it in a healing ceremony before white Europeans arrived in North America or Mexico.
Then, Adolf Hitler bragged in Mein Kampf about appropriating when he designed the Nazi flag. The swastika became forever linked to that evil. And New York lawmakers have proposed legislation that "requires instruction regarding symbols of hate, including the swastika and the noose, to be incorporated into the curricula for grades 6 through 12." The bill passed the Senate in July.
"We cannot get complacent and assume this issue will not come back. Indeed, the incidents of hate that prompted it regrettably can be expected again in future." The goal was to "foster mutual respect and tolerance" for all faiths.
Similar legislation has been proposed in several states. The Coalition of Hindus of North America urged people to contact their legislators to ask for the same sort of expansion that the New Yorkers suggested. The CoHNA website first applauded the legislation's intent of cultivating tolerance and inclusiveness then detailed its passion for the issue this way:
"Educating students about hatred, racism and bigotry is essential. This is even more urgent, given the recent increase in hate crimes against the Jewish and African American communities within the State of New York. Incidents of the (neo-)Nazi emblem being graffitied outside Jewish homes and synagogues, often accompanied by horrific acts of violence, by anti-Semitic and white power groups have become an alarming recurrence. As a Nazi emblem, the swastika in the West is inscribed with the transgenerational trauma of the eleven million Jews and others killed by Nazi persecution, and its use today is meant to have a chilling, intimidating effect on Jewish Americans when used in these ways. It is important to recognize it as such."
"Yet, as we see the interwovenness of religious bigotries, the important work of fighting anti-Semitism and racism must not inadvertently stoke resentment against other religious minorities," the CoHNA statement continued.
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