New York: A NY State Senate Bill sponsored by Senator Todd Kaminsky (D) 9th Senate District and co-sponsored by Senators Joseph Addabbo Jr (D) 15th Senate District, Alessandra Biaggi (D, WF) 34th Senate District, John Brooks (D) 8th Senate District, and David Carlucci (D) 38TH Senate District requires that the New York school children be educated regarding the meaning of swastikas and nooses as symbols of hatred and intolerance.
This bill has not gone down well with Hindus who have demanded that the NY school curriculum shouldn’t misrepresent the sacred symbol of Swastika.
Ajay Shah, Convenor of American Hindus Against Defamation (AHAD), an initiative of World Hindu Council of America (VHPA) in a press release said, “the proposed NY State Senate Bill SS 6648 requiring instruction regarding symbols of hate to be incorporated into the curricula for grades six through twelve perpetuate ignorance and promotes HinduPhobia in schools across New York state. AHAD pledges to work with other Hindu organizations to ensure that this legislation is modified to remove the references to Swastika.”
AHAD has been actively monitoring mass media, products, public places etc. to ensure respectful and accurate representation of Hindu dharma, culture, images and icons.
American Jewish Committee (AJC) working with the VHPA and other Hindu organizations in Washington, DC has produced a brochure titled, “Understanding Swastika, Use and Abuse of a sacred symbol.” The AJC brochure quotes the following from the Declaration of the Second Hindu-Jewish Leadership Summit, held in February 2008, Jerusalem, “The Swastika is an ancient and greatly auspicious symbol of the Hindu tradition. It is inscribed on Hindu temples, ritual altars, entrances, and even account books. A distorted version of this sacred symbol was misappropriated by the Third Reich in Germany, and abused as an emblem under which heinous crimes were perpetrated against humanity, particularly the Jewish people. The participants recognize that this symbol is, and has been sacred to Hindus for millennia, long before its misappropriation.” Shah said, “We believe that this brochure in itself is sufficient to remove Swastika from the purported purpose of this legislation.”
Utsav Chakrabarty, World Hindu Council of America Director of Advocacy and Awareness said, “We acknowledge the horrid way the swastika has been misused and misinterpreted. Even though Hitler never used the word “Swastika”, and instead used the same symbol, calling it Hakenkreuz, for the past 70 years, the Swastika continues to remain a vilified and maligned symbol. This must be corrected. Instead of censoring the symbol, we must celebrate the positive history of it. We must reclaim it from Hitler and the followers of his hateful ideology. This wrong must be righted.”
Today’s political climate demonstrates the importance of diversity and celebrating ones’ heritage. Maligning this ancient heritage would be a step backwards in promoting interfaith harmony and would lead to increase in hate crimes and Hinduphobia. AHAD demands that the meaning and significance of Swastika be included in the educational curriculum so that the hate crimes against Hindus are not perpetuated.