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Raelian Movement Will 'Reclaim' Swastika At Toronto Pride

Swastika Conservative Toronto mayor Rob Ford won't attend gay pride this year, but the Raelian Movement will.

Kind of like Scientologists, only more progressive and inclusive, the International Raelian Movement believes that Earth's humans were created by another human race, called Elohim, elsewhere in the universe, and jettisoned here to our homeland.

They also believe that the swastika, the once-peaceful symbol used by Nazis during their reign of terror and now incporated into the Raelian's logo, needs to be revived. And they're are taking their message to Toronto pride.

"For religions like Jainism and Buddhism, the swastika represented luck, well-being, harmony and piece," said Raelian spokesperson Diane Brisebois. "When people think of the swastika, they immediately think of the Nazis and we want to change that."

Another spokesperson remarked, "The goal is to return the swastika's true meaning of peace and harmony to this ancient symbol regretfully hijacked by the Nazis."

While I can understand where the Raelians are coming from -- it's akin to LGBT people reclaiming "queer" -- I think the swastika is so tainted and tarnished that it is beyond all redemption.

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  1. The Christian Cross is a tainted symbol too. The "Cross" was a Roman devise used to torture convicts to death if one is to believe the understanding, although some feel the devise was a stake and not a two beam cross. The neo-Judaic sect used it as their symbol and now most people don't even know of its horrible origin. I don't think the word "queer" is as tainted, hence it's easy to reclaim.

    Posted by: Sargon Bighorn | Jul 3, 2011 2:33:52 PM

  2. Reclaiming the swastika at a Pride event. Sure, that won't go horribly wrong.

    Posted by: Joe B. | Jul 3, 2011 2:37:31 PM

  3. Sorry, like the confederate flag, there is way too much association with horror for this symbol to be reclaimed. I don't care what supporters say, this will ALWAYS first and foremost symbolize man's inhumanity to man.

    Posted by: Mark | Jul 3, 2011 2:39:07 PM

  4. In the fullness of time, the swastika should be reclaimed. It belongs to a lot more traditions than the Nazi Reich. On the other hand, reclaiming it from evil to tarnish it with stupidity, as in this case, isn't something I can get behind.

    Jettisoned, indeed.

    Posted by: BobN | Jul 3, 2011 2:45:13 PM

  5. "While I can understand where the Raelians are coming from…"

    Me too. Like Christianists, the Raelians have a completely unsupported fantasy of our species' origin and are using it to rationalize socially destructive behavior.

    I also understand that because the "inclusive" Railians would happy to have LGBTQ people support their destructive anti-science, anti-knowledge superstition, you've drawn a grotesque analogy in semi-support of them, merely because they're not explicitly anti-gay. Egaads.

    There is no benign superstition. These people are either batshit crazy or pseudo-Scientoligist Elmer Gantrys. Either way, they're promulgating lies, ignorance, and superstition and deserve to be shunned. The notion that being gay means we have anything in common with these lunatics is as offensive as it is fantastic.

    Good Goddess, man… Being progressives is not about being mush-headed moral relativists who long to clutch every indolent, put-upon self-designated victim and moron to our collective bosom. Can we keep in mind that "discrimination" has some positive connotations - among other things, the ability to tell food from feces?

    After all, you are what you eat.

    Posted by: Bryan | Jul 3, 2011 2:52:24 PM

  6. "Queer" at best had a neutral connotation, and only for a few hundred years before taking on the gay meaning. The swastika was around for thousands of years before the Nazis, and had a positive cultural and religious meaning. It is still used that way in Asia. The trauma associated with the swastika is greater than that associated with "queer", but I think it's still salvageable.

    Posted by: Brian | Jul 3, 2011 2:52:40 PM

  7. I think it's important that art and language - symbols and words - remain fluid. Appropriation is a very popular method of cultural awareness in the modern world. I played with the idea, too, by making a KKK robe in rainbow fabric ( When I wore it at Pride last week, 95% of people laughed and loved it, but there were a few that were confused and angered by how I could use such a 'charged' icon - tainted, tarnished, [insert synonym here]. They are totally entitled to their opinion, but it reminded me of individuals who couldn't understand why the definition of 'marriage' should be changed. Marriage has been a prejudiced institution forever, and now we are trying to change the definition of marriage to include same-sex individuals. I don't know if it's hypocritical, but if we try to change the definition of one word or symbol, like the word marriage or the symbol of the swastika as it originally came from another culture prior to the Nazis, then images of hate should most definitely be considered for appropriation and reclamation. It may be a slow and steady journey, and something not easily accepted. But just like marriage equality in the coming years, it will become something eventually accepted and understood.

    Posted by: Jeffrey | Jul 3, 2011 2:52:41 PM

  8. "I think the swastika is so tainted and tarnished that it is beyond all redemption."

    perfectly said.

    Posted by: Trey | Jul 3, 2011 3:15:36 PM

  9. You can twist yourself into any semiotic pretzel imaginable, but irredeemable is irredeemable. Enough with this hideous, heinous "argument."

    Posted by: ANON IN SO CAL | Jul 3, 2011 3:24:15 PM

  10. For a Hindu I find it hard to display the swastika outside my home yet it is as much as a part of my practice of faith everyday. I believe that we as humans can transform the meaning of anything with our perception.

    swastika: ancient symbol that comes from Sanskrit word svasti (sv = well; asti = is), meaning good fortune, luck and well-being.

    Posted by: Sittaraha | Jul 3, 2011 3:30:20 PM

  11. I saw these people campaigning at NYC pride but did not realize they were the Raelians. They were petitioning the swastika as a symbol for peace. While I'm usually up for reclaiming something, I think that this symbol is too problematic and negatively charged to ever change.

    Posted by: MTC | Jul 3, 2011 3:30:35 PM

  12. I think we just need to be geographically clear about this reclaiming business. In Asia, it's never had nazi connotations and can be found all over Buddhist temples. In the west, it really has only had Nazi connotations. So they're really not reclaiming anything, it's never been lost in Asia and it's never been known in the West as representing anything but nazism.

    Posted by: Brian | Jul 3, 2011 3:37:40 PM

  13. There existed in Dublin ,up to the sixties, maybe into the seventies, "The Swastica Laundry"......they had their trucks delivering all over. The Swastica was their symbol and was painted on their vans. The laundry had no connection with Germany or the Nazis.
    I believe the company existed in Dublin long before the War........but the laundry did continue on in business long after the Nazis had been defeated.
    I think it was in the seventies it went out of business or was bought over.
    So the symbol did pre-date the Nazis and survived their abominations.
    Could it survive now ? I think the weight of connotation and reference has overwhelmed and meaning it ever had.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Jul 3, 2011 3:39:37 PM

  14. Interesting. Interesting. Interesting.

    Never heard of these Raelians until now. Sounds kinda Scientology-ish to me. I don't know if their spiritual beliefs have anything to do with aliens like the scientologists' beliefs do, but while reading the above article I couldn't help but visualing the heading:

    Ladies and Gentle, we have arrived at the 21st century. Behold......... the Gay Canadian Nazis from Outer Space!

    Posted by: Chaddy | Jul 3, 2011 3:40:01 PM

  15. There is no "redemption" for the swastika. There are people alive today who have been through the horrors of WWII and the Holocaust and there is no wiping away the evils of Nazism, and there is no way this symbol will ever evoke anything but loathing. And as far as this other thing? Just what the world needs: another bunch of crazies running around basing their decisions on irrationality. Haven't we all had our fill of that already?

    Posted by: Justin L Werner | Jul 3, 2011 3:51:10 PM

  16. There is no "redemption" for the Q-word, either. It was never a "neutral" symbol when applied to LGBT folk; what a lie! It always connoted abnormality. Idiotic strategies like adopting "queer" leads directly to greater idiocies like swastika reclamation. It's amazing, how determined some of us are to sabotage equality! Could the Stonewall generation ever have predicted this treason?

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | Jul 3, 2011 3:58:30 PM

  17. I'm sorry for those who maintain that the Swastika can never be "reclaimed", but for millions of Asian people in Asia and all over the world, it has never been lost. It still remains a positive sign of good luck in many communities, and I have taught young Asian girls who carry this name quite happily.

    I'm afraid that this is yet another example of a sweeping value judgement about another culture's iconography which is based on a European/Jewish/American reaction to an ancient symbol.

    It doesn't need reclaiming. It has never been lost by the people who invented it and are still using it.

    Posted by: Kevin Norman | Jul 3, 2011 4:01:39 PM

  18. You people who think that this symbol is "tarnished" in YOUR eyes are not being reasonable. I doubt any of you have ever been to India, where the symbol completely and totally a part of the the landscape. "Swasti-Snacks," "Swastik Motors," etc. THEY are the ones who have been using the symbol since before it was stolen, and in fact consider it a sacred part of more than one of their religions. The arrogance and vanity to declare that we, since we were affected by it in a certain way, can now declare it "out of bounds" seems to be the result of folks never travelingoutside of the US or Europe and feeling that global views should be adjusted to their own prejudices...

    Posted by: denison | Jul 3, 2011 4:04:27 PM

  19. @JEFFREY: Ugh. No one is trying to "redefine marriage". We are simply demanding that we have the same legal rights as any other American citizen.

    I'm glad that others are pointing out the different ways in which the swastika is seen in parts of the world other than the west. When I visited Inda a few years ago, it quickly became clear that there was no association there between the swastika and the horrors of Nazi Germany. The symbol adorned peoples' cars, their homes and their places of business. In India, it was clearly a symbol of peace.

    Having said all that, I'm not sure the swastika could be reclaimed here in the west for several more generations. One man, however, is going to even more drastic measures than the Raelians. He has tattooed his body with the swastika in a effort to reclaim the symbol.

    Posted by: peterparker | Jul 3, 2011 4:15:37 PM

  20. i agree with brian & kevin norman's postings 100%. The folks clinging to "there is no redemption in the swastika" or mark's comment "this will ALWAYS first and foremost symbolize man's inhumanity to man" need to re-read brian's & kevin's & sittahara's comments again and again until it sinks in!!

    Posted by: Daniel | Jul 3, 2011 4:15:47 PM

  21. I was raised a small town American and my reaction to a swastika is visceral loathing.

    Posted by: PLAINTOM | Jul 3, 2011 4:48:29 PM

  22. For those of us who are Buddhist, the true meaning of the swastika doesn't have to be reclaimed because it was never lost. My home alter has a statue of the Buddha with a shining swastika on his chest the way Catholics have statues of the Christ with a bleeding heart.

    I would say that significantly more people think of the swastika as a symbol of luck and harmony than see it as a symbol of man's inhumanity to man. Just between China and India alone there are 3 billion plus people who know the ancient meaning of the symbol.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Jul 3, 2011 5:02:33 PM

  23. I can see why for Jews and others in the West that the swastika will remain a controversial and even evil symbol, thanks to the Nazis. Yet I was watching an interesting show on Jainism today and this is another Eastern religion wherein the swastika has been a strong part of their traditions for about 3,000 years now. We shouldn't assume that our views, particularly what may evoke disgust or shock, are universal.

    Posted by: JohnAGJ | Jul 3, 2011 5:25:39 PM

  24. oh stuffed animal, not everyone is as old as you and has the same experience with the word queer. Many of us don't have a negative experience with the word; get over it. Things change; it's called evolving. Same with the swastika (which is sure to always be around since the Asian and Indian cultures aren't the only ones to have it in their history - native Americans do as well) and many other words, symbols and meanings. Things change bitches! Just look at the word bitches! LOL

    Posted by: wtf | Jul 3, 2011 5:58:17 PM

  25. The insensitivity in this comment thread to the horrors of the Holocaust (which, some here seem to have forgotten, targeted Gay people as well as Jews, gypsies and intellectuals) is quite appalling. Lifting my Stuffed Animal snout in the air, I detect the nauseating scent of anti-Semitism, barely hidden behind cultural competence rhetoric.

    The world is not a monolith, it never has been, and it never will be! We in the West do not live in an Asian culture, and Asian traditions are not widely accepted among us. Some folks here clearly don't believe it, but Western cultural realities are just as valid as any other.

    What ignorance, to pretend what happened during World War II doesn't matter! Nazi Germany's depravity will never be forgotten; the atrocities of that era changed history forever. Ethno-centrism is a kind of prejudice, but reverse ethno-centrism is just as bad, especially where a blood-stained symbol like the swastika is concerned. This is yet another example of Leftist tunnel vision.

    Toronto Pride should never have allowed the Raelians to set up a booth! There is no justification for linking their agenda to our struggle. "Reclaiming" the Nazi emblem, if we are foolish enough to try it, will be even less successful than "reclaiming" the vile Q-word, and far more harmful to our movement. I repeat: The desire of some people to sabotage Gay Rights goals is more fervent than I ever imagined!

    Posted by: Stuffed Animal | Jul 3, 2011 6:11:38 PM

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