Hindu and Buddhist groups disappointed by California bill on Swastika

Profile photo on CoHNA Facebook page.

The Coalition of Hindus of North America (CoHNA) expressed “strong disappointment” about the California State Assembly’s decision to pass Bill AB2282, titled “Hate crimes: nooses, crosses, and swastikas,” which, the organization said, fails to remove “Nazi Swastika” from the wordings, “thus continuing association of the sacred Dharmic symbol with hate.”

While the purpose of the bill, i.e. to criminalize the display of hate symbols, is “well meaning” CoHNA said in its May 27, 2022, press release, “it perpetuates confusion by once again using false and hateful terms like “Nazi Swastika”, missing a historic opportunity to rectify a wrong done to the Buddhist, Hindu and Jain communities by faulty journalism and scholarship in the years following World War 2.”

The Hindu organization goes on to say that the bill “actually associates the sacred Swastika with hate and genocide by saying “…Nazi Hakenkreuz (hooked cross) [is] also known as the Nazi Swastika that was the official emblem of the Nazi party.”

“By passing this bill in its current form and failing to accommodate the concerns of Hindus, Buddhists and Jains in the language, the Assembly has essentially supported the false idea that there is a ‘good Swastika’ and a ‘bad Swastika’,” CoHNA president Nikunj Trivedi is quoted saying in the press release, adding, “In spite of claims that the bill has decriminalized Swastika, the amended language continues to use the word ‘Nazi Swastika’.”

CoHNA began its campaign against the negative portrayal of the Hindu symbol two years ago in New York, maintaining that the usage of the words “Nazi Swastika” damages the religious beliefs of Hindu, Buddhist, and Jain communities and continues to incorrectly label a sacred symbol as an emblem of death and genocide, the press release noted. CoHNA said it has partnered with organizations representing Buddhist and Jain religions.

“Our opposition to the bill stems from the fact that while the amended bill does insert the word “Hakenkreuz” (hooked cross) once, it continues to refer to Hitler’s hate symbol and the Nazi party emblem as “Nazi Swastika” in the rest of the bill,” CoHNA said.

“Even the bill’s title refers to the hate symbol simply as “Swastika.” Thus, the newer version does not remove the hateful association with the Swastika and perpetuates confusion by using the words “Nazi Swastika” and associating it with hate and genocide,” it said.

“The English translation has created numerous problems for the Dharmic communities, because in the the German language ‘Hakenkreuz’ literally means ‘hooked-cross,’ which is how Hitler and the Nazis referred to their symbol, not ‘Swastika,’” said Reverend Dr. T.K. Nakagaki, president of the Heiwa Peace and Reconciliation Foundation of New York and President Emeritus of the Buddhist Council of New York. “You can say Nazi Hakenkreuz, Nazi hooked cross, Nazi hate symbol, but cannot call it ‘Nazi Swastika.’ The word ‘Swastika’ belongs to Dharmic traditions and is a particularly important symbol of peace and auspiciousness.”

CoHNA has urged Hindu, Buddhist and Jain communities to reach out to their lawmakers and urge them to take the necessary steps to ensure that the bill is amended with appropriate references to the Nazi symbol of hate (“Hakenkreuz” or “hooked cross”) versus the sacred Swastika, the press release said.



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