New York beachgoers got a little bit of a shock Saturday when a plane toting a swastika banner flew overhead.
The banner featured a swastika over the Star of David and alluded that the symbol meant peace and love while advertising for proswastika.org. (Via WNBC)
This isn't a Nazi organization but rather a separate religious group trying to "rehabilitate" the swastika and reclaim it from the Nazis. (Via ProSwastika)
Regardless of intent a lot of people were pretty upset. Especially considering the banner flew over Brighton Beach, which has a high concentration of Russian-Jewish immigrants.
One resident told Sheepshead Bites: “I was dumbfounded by it. My grandparents are Holocaust survivors, and everyone [in Brighton Beach] knows someone whose family was affected by the Holocaust."
The banner was sponsored by members of a religion called Raelism, whose members believe that life on Earth was created by extraterrestrials that came to the planet on UFOs.
The group is saying the swastika is a symbol of "good fortune" and "well-being." And — the thing is — they aren't technically wrong.
According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, that is what it meant when it was created 5,000 years ago and it served as a sacred symbol of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Odinism. That was before Adolf Hitler hijacked it as a symbol for "Aryan identity."
But most don't care about the symbol's long history, and that includes one Coney Island council man who said "I will not accept their twisted logic. And I am also going to speak out against sending chilling messages of fear and intimidation to residents." (Via WCBS)
A spokesman for the group said they tried to put up a billboard with a similar message in Canada but the billboard company wouldn't post it because they felt it was "offensive and inflammatory." (ViaEastchester's HamletHub)
The group has put out similar messages in at least 20 cities across the globe this week.