All that beach-goers this past weekend wanted was some rest and relaxation, but instead they got some swastika rehabilitation.
As New York-area residents from New Jersey to Manhattan to Long Island looked up to the clear blue sky on Saturday, they saw a giant swastika on a banner flying overhead. The sign, pulled along by a small airplane, was printed with “Proswastika.org,” symbols equating the swastika with love and peace, and the Raelian logo of a Swastika superimposed over the center of a Star of David.
The Raelians, a UFO enthusiasts group (some would call it a cult) founded in 1974, believe that the swastika has gotten a bum deal. For the past three years, they have been holding annual “World Swastika Rehabilitation Day” events in cities around the world, including Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Vancouver, Melbourne and Tel Aviv, among others. They just want people to understand the original meaning of the ancient symbol, which in Sanskrit means “to do good.”
It would seem that the fact that the Nazis co-opted the swastika and turned it into a symbol for genocidal hatred fazes the Raelians not one bit. For them, it all has to do with their theory as to how humans came to be, namely an advanced extra-terrestrial scientists called Elohim — for which the swastika is a symbol — created people.
“The swastika is one of the best traces left by those who created us, and the attempt to bury it as a symbol of violence and hatred only gives credit to the horrible Nazi ideology,” Raelian spokesman Thomas Kaenzig told The Huffington Post. “Some people associate the swastika with something negative, but you don’t stop using the cross just because of the Ku Klux Klan.”
While Kaenzig and other Raelians may think the swastika is all about peace and love, most people still find the symbol highly offensive. Some of them tweeted their shock, disgust and disapproval at seeing the banner fly overhead.
According to a Patch report, the Long Beach Township Police Department received several phone complaints about the banner. The president of the Jewish community center in the same town said he wanted to know more about what was going on. “We’re trying to find out — what are their intentions?” Don Pripstein said.
Tweeter Miguelina Nunez pretty much summed up for most most people what was going on: “It’s a gorgeous day…And some idiot is flying a swastika banner off the tail of his plane up and down Manhattan.”