A New York cab driver who was suspended for wearing a Nazi armband defended himself to local media Saturday, saying it was his First Amendment right to wear a swastika as a National Socialist. In a far-ranging interview, Gabriel Diaz said he doesn’t hate Jews, but believes the American public has been lied to about Adolf Hitler.

“I am a National Socialist, what you guys call a Nazi. I am a believer of it,” Diaz told CBS New York. “I didn’t mean to offend anybody, I’m just expressing my first amendments, my freedom of expression. If other people have the right to wear what they want to wear, why can’t a National Socialist?” Diaz suggested Muslims be banned from wearing their religious garb, and that “a homosexual should apologize for being homosexual, open and gay” if he, Diaz, is barred from donning his Nazi armband.

Diaz was suspended by the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission for 30 days last week for wearing a swastika armband. The suspended cabbie told CBS that he mostly wears it around his house, “because I’m a National Socialist,” but occasionally wore it while working.

“The media portrays it as hate, but not to us,” said Diaz, a 26-year-old black man of Dominican extraction who lives in the Bronx. Wearing a Nazi armband “doesn’t make me a hater,” he posited.

Asked whether his ethnic background conflicted with the ideology of Nazism, he replied, “Who ever said you have to be white to be a National Socialist?”

The Nazi race laws implemented by Germany in 1935 forbade interracial relations, and an estimated 400 biracial children were sterilized by the Nazis because of their ethnicity.

After initially declining to comment on whether he advocated Hitler’s ideology, Diaz eventually opened up.

“I believe we’ve been taught lies about Hitler our whole life. I don’t want to talk about what allegedly” — here Diaz used air quotes — “happened over there,” he said, referring to Europe under Nazi Germany’s occupation between 1933 and 1945. “We’ve been told lies about Hitler, we’ve been told lies about National Socialism, we’ve been told lies about everything.

“I used to believe that Hitler was this evil guy who wanted to rule the world, but… we were wrong,” he continued, explaining that he changed his mind after reading unspecified “independent websites.”

Gabriel Diaz's swastika armband is seen through the window of his cab (photo credit: ADL/JTA)

Gabriel Diaz’s swastika armband is seen through the window of his cab (photo credit: ADL/JTA)

He added that he wasn’t interested in speaking with the Anti-Defamation League, whose office brought the complaint against Diaz. The ADL said Friday that Diaz sent “a frightening and offensive message to New Yorkers about who might be welcome – and unwelcome – in the taxicab he was driving.”

“There’s anti-Semitism because [the Jews] want you to believe there’s anti-Semitism,” Diaz said. “I don’t hate Jews. I’m critical of them, but I don’t hate them.”

Diaz also implied he was opposed to democratic government and said that as a National Socialist he advocated “the natural order” of hierarchy and survival of the fittest.

“It pains me that I have to apologize,” he said.

If “homosexuals run around freely with the gay flag and the speedos … why can’t I say that I’m proud to be a Nazi, as you guys call it,” Diaz said.

Diaz was quoted by The Gothamist as saying he would continue to wear his Nazi armband “but not while driving a cab because there’s a lot of crybabies out there in Manhattan, a lot of liberal crybabies, who cry every time they see a symbol of hate.”

According to the New York Daily News, Diaz’s father doesn’t agree with his son’s beliefs.

“He needs help!” Juan Diaz told the Daily News. “Forget all that he say.”