Coalition of Hindus of North America

SIGNATURE FORM FOR ORGANIZATION LETTER TO SENATORS REGARDING THE SWASTIKA ON AB2282

PLEASE NOTE:

The below form should only be filled out by an representative, board member, trustee, or anyone who is authorized to act on behalf of the organization and has received permission to do so. A consolidated letter containing all the names of the organizations will then be sent to the Senators who are involved with the Swastika AB2282.

Thank you for supporting this united effort across organizations and groups.

Please contact us at info@cohna.org if you have any questions.

Letter to Senators

Dear Senators,

We, the undersigned, are writing to express our strong concerns regarding Assembly Bill AB2282 on hate symbols. While we thank Assemblymember Bauer-Kahan’s recent efforts to acknowledge the importance of the Swastika to Hindus, Buddhists and Jains, its reference to the term “Nazi Swastika” once again repeats the problematic language of the California Penal code and earlier bills. Indeed, it goes further by stating that “Nazi Swastika was the official emblem of the Nazi party”. This is not only factually incorrect, it  further solidifies the current state of misinformation about this sacred and ancient symbol for Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and other indigenous communities worldwide.

Let us be clear that we fully support the intention of the bill to combat hate and stamp out bigotry. However, the bill (which is now in the Senate), is still flawed because it does not remove the hateful association of Hitler’s symbol – the Hooked Cross – with the Swastika. This runs contrary to claims that its intention is not to criminalize the “Swastika” sacred to Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains. Worse, it associates our sacred and ancient symbol of good luck, with hate and genocide by saying that the Nazi Hakenkreuz is “…also known as the Nazi Swastika, that was the official emblem of the Nazi party…”

The fact is, the Nazis never used the word “Swastika.” They called it “Hakenkreuz.” How “Hakenkreuz” got mistranslated to “Swastika” is an unfortunate chapter of post-WW2 history based on faulty scholarship and media coverage.

This bill has a historic opportunity to help correct this mistranslation. It is only appropriate for a state like California to take the lead and set an example for other states by listening to the voices of formerly marginalized minority communities and silenced indigenous groups.

“Swastika” is a Sanskrit word and a symbol of peace, well-being and prosperity currently used by nearly two billion people and numerous cultures around the world. It is displayed in our temples, monasteries, in our homes, in our sacred art, during our festivals (e.g. Diwali, Holi, Navratri, etc.), during our marriages, and on many other occasions. It has been in continuous use for over 5000 years.

It is the Nazi hooked cross, and NOT the Swastika, that is used as a symbol of hatred towards Jewish Americans, African Americans, Asian Americans, and other minorities. A symbol derives its meaning not just from the shape but also from the context. Despite the apparent geometrical similarities between the hooked cross and the Swastika, the two have NOTHING to do with each other and are used in diametrically opposite contexts. The right action in the legislature will ensure that folks start looking at context to understand the intent of the symbol when they see it, versus jumping to conclusions based on a false and simplistic understanding.

Misinformation about the Swastika can have real life consequences. On June 9th, a Bay Area summer camp that usually hosts 900+ kids was shut down and its staff quit because they wrongly attributed sacred Swastika symbols on the historic Duveneck house as “Nazi Swastikas” – forcing the owners to apologize and remove the tiles with these cultural symbols. This is a disturbing reminder of intolerance towards sacred symbols of lesser known faiths. We are concerned that such instances may repeat due to the wrongful association of the sacred Swastika with the Nazis.

Summary of our ask

We urge you to modify (or ask the bill’s author to amend) the language of the existing bill as follows:

  • Remove the words “Nazi Swastika.” Instead, use generic words such as “Nazi emblem” or “Nazi hate symbol.”
  • If the bill must refer to the old Penal Code (which contains “Nazi Swastika”), it should add words such as – “incorrectly or falsely known as the Nazi Swastika.”
  • The word “Swastika” should only be used when referring to the sacred symbol used by Hindus, Buddhists, and Jains.
  • For context — The amended bill already inserts some new language with the phrase “…that was the official emblem of the Nazi party” to clarify reference to “Nazi Swastika.” If new language can be inserted here, it is also surely possible to clarify things further by adding the words “incorrectly or falsely known as the Nazi Swastika.” – this is a simple demand.

The above will ensure that the bill is more inclusive and doesn’t trigger hate against our religious traditions and symbols. We must all condemn hate – so, let us condemn the Hakenkreuz or the “Nazi Hooked Cross”.

For more information, please visit www.cohna.org/swastika or email info@cohna.org

We sincerely urge you to support our simple demands.

SIGNATURE FORM