iNDICA NEWS BUREAU-
Coca-Cola used it. So did the beer brand Carlsberg.
Then came the Nazis. After years of trying to decriminalize the Swastika from the Nazi mark, deeply associated with the third Reich and the Holocaust engineered by Adolph Hitler, that led to the extermination of millions of Jews and others who did not match with Nazi theory of Aryan supremacy, efforts are finally nearer to the goal in California.
At the Senate Public Safety Committee hearing in Sacramento, bill AB2282 was passed out of committee, taking one step closer to the decriminalization of the Swastika, that the Right-wing Hindu organizations in the States have been pursuing for decades, and restoring the Nazi hate emblem’s original name Hakenkreuz (crooked cross) Wednesday, June 22.
“Hindus are routinely questioned and harassed over displays of the swastika. The language of bill AB2282 adds a layer of protection for the Hindus, Buddhist, and Jain communities from persecution by clarifying that the penal code is not intended to target these communities,” said Easan Katir, Hindu American Foundation’s California advocacy director in his testimony. “We recognize that a misnomer like ‘Nazi Swastika’ cannot be legally decriminalized without naming the misnomer. Without the precise legal language of AB2282, our community will not have the full protection under California law to shield us from harassment and false accusations. We see AB2282 as a crucial first step towards increasing awareness about the swastika, and look forward to continuing to work on education and advocacy of the swastika.”
A representative of the Anti-Defamation League also gave testimony before the committee, which passed the bill with a 4-0 vote. The ADL was invited to testify by the bill’s lead sponsor the California Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan.
Earlier, the California State Assembly had passed the bill AB2282, May 30, 2022, following which it moved to the Senate committee.
Canadian Indian Member of Parliament Chandra Arya had made a similar plea March 3, 2022.
Days before the bill AB2282 was passed in the California state assembly, the executive director of the Hindu American Foundation Suhag Shukla tweeted: “Amendment acknowledged that the Nazi emblem was historically (wrongly) known as a swastika. Acknowledging the wrong linkage allows us to begin to delink it.”
Around the same time, under fierce opposition from the Hindu Council of Australia, the Hindu Australia Inc and other Hindu organizations, the swastika was dropped from an assorted list of hate symbols that the MP Annastacia Palasczuk had sought ban on public display in the state of Queensland, Australia.
The Encyclopedia Britannica in its entry under religious symbols, describes as the following swastika, an equilateral cross with arms bent at right angles, all in the same rotary direction, usually clockwise.
The Britannica adds, poet and nationalist ideologist Guido Von List had suggested use of the swastika as a symbol for all anti-Semitic organizations in 1910. When the National Socialist Party, commonly known as the Nazi party, was formed it adopted it. The black swastika on a white circle, with a red background became the national flag of Germany September 15, 1935. In the German emblem, the swastika has oblique arms turned clockwise.
The Britannica says, Swastika in Sanskrit means “conducive to well-being” and is a symbol of prosperity.
While Hindus across the globe have been trying to purify the Swastika from its Nazi touch, ironically the Bharatiya Janata Party, to which the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi belongs and its ideological fountainhead the 97-year-old organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) owe much of their ideological inspiration from Hitler and the Nazis. They believe in the theory of Aryan supremacy, deny Aryans having come to India as others like the Huns, Turks and Mughals (the last one being their favorite whipping boy) and India was, is and shall remain a Hindu country while other religious minorities be relegated to a lower category with no rights, Even the salute of the RSS is similar to the Nazi one, known as the Hitler salute, Sieg Heil salute or German greeting, where the supporters extend the right arm from the shoulder into the air with a straightened hand.
The Indian National Congress MP and lawyer Abhishek Manu Singhvi too sided with the Hindu organizations. “Hindu Swastika isn’t the same as the Nazi Hakenkreuz. Hindus, Buddhists, Jains use Swastik as symbol of peace and prosperity. Nazis misused the symbol. This is the same as demonizing any other religion for misuse of its tenets and should be discouraged,” Singhvi tweeted nearly two years ago July 24, 2020.
The author of the book, The Swastika: Symbol Beyond Redemption, Steven Heller, an American graphic design writer had shown the symbol was popular globally till the Nazis appropriated it.
Writing for the BBC Mukti Jain Campion, producer and presenter of the documentary Reclaiming the Swastika, said, “The Nazi use of the swastika stems from the work of 19t century German scholars translating old Indian texts, who noticed similarities between their own language and Sanskrit. They concluded that Indians and Germans must have had a shared ancestry and imagines a race of white god-like warriors they called Aryans.”
Historical research over the years shows that the Swastika, though derives its name from Sanskrit, might not have been on Indian origin.
Variations of the Swastika have been traced to ancient Mesopotamian coinage, resurrected as a Marvel Avenger Thor, the Nordic god’s hammer had a left-hand swastika, early Christian and Byzantine art (where it is known as gammadion cross, the Mayans in central and south America and among the Navajo’s in North America. One of the earliest Swastika dates back to around 2,000 BC at the IIkley moor in Great Britain’s Yorkshire in a carving on a stone.
A Canadian artist and poet known as Man Woman had argued all his life from the 60s onwards for a rethink on Swastika, which finally took the form of “Love the Swastika Day” on November 13, spearheaded from a tattoo shop in Scotland.
The bill AB2282 now moves on to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which will evaluate the bill’s potential fiscal impact.