Swastika Banner Flying Over NYC Beaches Ruins Everyone’s Day

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On Saturday, NYC locals enjoying a day on the beach got a sudden dose of outrage when they witnessed a plane towing a swastika banner – advertising a “pro-swastika” website – flying overhead.

The banner was created by the International Raelian Movement and included the peace sign, a heart symbol, a swastika and the group’s website, proswastika.org.

Raelians wish to “rehabilitate” the symbol, stating that the swastika was co-opted by Nazis. According to the group’s mission statement:

“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!” [source]

 Thomas Kaenzig, spokesperson for the organization, said:

“By keeping the negative connotation of the swastika and linking it to Hitler, you only give credit to this guy’s monstrosity. It’s very important to reclaim it and explain to the public that this symbol has a beautiful origin.” [source]

This banner was flown over the Rockaways and Coney Island for what the group refers to as “Swastika Rehabilitation Week.” However, beachgoers were less joyous and supportive.

Ariel Creamer, a 14-year-old who spotted the banner near Belle Harbor, said:

“It was horrific.” [source]

In Brooklyn, home to many World War II and Holocaust survivors, officials expressed their disapproval.

Brooklyn City Councilman Mark Treyger said:

“I am deeply offended and hurt. Try explaining to someone who witnessed their loved ones who were butchered by people under that Nazi symbol that it’s anything but a hateful one.” [source]

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito added:

“Flying this hateful banner is an outrageous and hurtful act.” [source]

However, Kaenzig believes that the public’s reaction only further justifies the need for the International Raelian Movement’s cause. He said:

“As long there are people still offended by it, it means we need to continue our work, to continue to rehabilitate the symbol.” [source]