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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. A group could also show up in white robes with giant pointy white hoods and claim they were "reclaiming" the costume as simply a Capriote hat worn by the Nazarenos in Spain. "Hey, everybody," they could say to the people looking at them in horror as they show up at the next gay pride rally, "why must you think about the Klan every time you see us? We're just reclaiming this get-up for Spain!"

    Uh... no. Pick a different symbol, dearies. Would you show up in China or Japan waving around a symbol that was really offensive to them because, hey, that symbol was really meaningful to you back home in the West? If you had the slightest cultural sensitivity, I'm guessing not.

    Here in the West and in the USA, the swastika (and the Klan robe) still bring up all sorts of terrible trauma and horrible memories for a lot of folks still alive, so running around shoving those symbols in people's faces, even if it's because you personally would delight in their being "reclaimed" (because, well, I guess you could feel kind of nifty saying "hey, look at this groovy symbol of peace I've reclaimed" or feel kind of smug about saying "geez, everybody, they don't have a problem with this in the East, what's you're big deal about it")... well, it probably isn't all that nice a thing to do, ya know? Even if you feel you're doing it because of some really, really righteous religious belief where, gosh golly darn it, you just righteously have to have that one particular symbol, and you have to have it now.

    But hey: not only is it religion, where there's about eighty million other far less loaded symbols for your particular faith, cult, sect, or denomination to choose from, but, ya know what... you can even make up your own! How about a circle with two lines popping out of the top like bunny ears or maybe you could channel Monty Python's "Life of Brian" and put a shoe on the end of a stick. O symbol of Holy Peace... see how easy that is?

    Coincidentally, my church has a very specific symbol of peace that I'm going to share with anyone who walks up and waves a swastika in my face at a GLBT event. And I know this may have a different, much more negative connotation to other people in our society, but my church is simply trying to "reclaim" that symbol as a sweet token of love and peace:

    It's a closed fist with a raised middle finger. So you show me your "reclaimed" symbol, and I'll show you ours.

    Posted by: bobbyjoe | Jul 3, 2011 6:33:43 PM

  2. @PeterParker, The definition of marriage isn't isolated, just like the definition of a symbol. I understand that marriage is a social union between two individuals, no change about that. In terms of Western culture that's brought up in these comments, and specifically with the United States, the judicial definition of marriage in the US has been between a man and a woman, and that's what I was targeting in my comment. Before 1967, the American judicial definition of marriage was between a man and a woman of the same race. American citizens demanded equal rights, just like you say in your comment. But in order to have achieved that, I believe the American judicial definition of marriage had to be redefined (which it was), much like it has to be redefined today.

    I think the definition of a symbol is even more tricky. With these comments, it's easy to see that the there is a social, religious, and cultural definition of the swastika that is evil and one that is good. I don't know what the American judicial definition of a swastika is, but I don't think it's illegal to display a swastika outside your home or on your t-shirt just like it's not illegal to wear a cross necklace or display an upside down triangle bumper sticker. Changing the judicial laws that govern us and changing the beliefs of individuals are difficult tasks but not impossible. Like the 'definition' of marriage, its a personal understanding as to whether or not we want to solidify its meaning as fixed, or allow it to morph into something else, with the understanding that yes, it will probably change again.

    Posted by: Jeffrey | Jul 3, 2011 6:59:15 PM

  3. If you look the symbol faces the other direction and is not slanted. That distinguishes it from the Nazi Swastika. I wouldn't use it for fear of being misinterpreted, but it is different. In India I've seen houses decorated with both swastikas and Stars of David.

    Posted by: Ajai | Jul 3, 2011 8:01:12 PM

  4. I will never see the swastika as anything but a symbol of Nazism and the horrors of WWII. If you have a different view, fine, I am not interested in changing your mind. But expecting me or others like me to change ours on this subject is futile. Not happening.

    Posted by: Justin L Werner | Jul 4, 2011 12:56:30 AM

  5. It's an ancient symbol used in the east especially, LONG before the Nazis hijacked it. Just because Europeans decided to use it for evil purposes in a war resulting in a Jewish holocaust and war that killed 80-100 million people, doesn't reflect on those elsewhere to whom it is and always has been a symbol of peace.

    Although obviously I wouldn't expect victims of the Nazis, especially Jews, to embrace it, and wouldn't blame them for being offended when seing it in public like a pride event.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Jul 4, 2011 1:23:45 AM

  6. This isn't a question of symbolism as much as a question of manners. Good manners suggest you consider other people's feelings. Miss Manners would say, "when in doubt show respect for Jews." So would anyone with a history book.

    Balancing this new desire to show a religious symbol against the perception of discourtesy to Jews, there is no question that this is at best inflammatory attention-getting, and at worst a slap in the face to Jews. Hard to say if these people are sinister or just flaky. Not sure it matters- they have no place in public discourse.

    Gays and Jews should stand side by side (the same way the Nazis incinerated us.)

    Posted by: Rob | Jul 4, 2011 7:28:12 AM

  7. Doesn't really matter to me that the swastika is all over Asia, etc. I live in North American among a bunch of descendants of Europeans. We still don't care much for the swastika here. But if you feel it has to be included in Gay Pride, go for it. Just one more thing that supports the idea that today's gay pride marches are really just freak shows put on for the ultra-right to prove their point.

    Posted by: Jeff | Jul 4, 2011 8:04:41 AM

  8. Yes, let's just add the most hated symbol of the 20th century to our community.

    I wholly respect Buddhist beliefs and practices, but... there is a line. I am the product of a generation that went to war against a swastika carrying genocidal maniac. Let's not forget, too, that Hitler also tried to eradicate the homosexual population.

    I would really question the morality of any organization that would profess love and peace under that symbol.

    Posted by: Rad | Jul 4, 2011 9:03:25 AM

  9. At least they could change the damn color!

    When anyone in the free world sees a red swastika, it's automatically Nazi.

    Posted by: johnny | Jul 4, 2011 12:23:08 PM

  10. It's all about context. Obviously the swastika represents blessings and a mark of divinity or buddha-hood in some cultures; if one is so stubborn as to be deeply offended when the swastika is used in this way, in this context, that is the problem of the offended, not of the swastika. I'm offended by White Supremacy, not by the swastika. I'm horrified at the Holocaust, not at the swastika. I'm disgusted that the ancient word Indo-European word Aryan has been turned into a word with negative connotations, when it just meant something like "noble" and is found literally as far apart as Ire(Arya)-land and Iran (Aryan). However I do agree that, as of right now in history, there are other symbols that, in the West, would better serve the teachings and blessings of those religions that came from India. We didn't shoot Nazis out of the sky because they bore the swastika, but because they perverted its meaning, and everything else they came in contact with. I would almost argue that neutralizing the swastika is another step in cleaning up the karmic mess they left behind.

    And anyway, white power swastikas never look like, nor are used in the same way, as Hindu, Buddhist or Jain swastikas. You'd have to be a real dummy not to tell them apart almost immediately.

    Posted by: Clint | Jul 4, 2011 2:52:45 PM

  11. @ Clint : You could be right.......but I never thought of myself as Aryan...

    But I can't see some words (queer) or symbols ( swastica) ever being reclaimed.....the weight is against them,.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Jul 4, 2011 3:30:55 PM

  12. That's all we need as a community. Some fringe "religious" group parading around with Swastikas at Pride events, entangling the LGBT community with the swastikas and thus, the Nazis. Hate groups are already trying to associate gays with Nazism, do we really need to help them along? What's next someone trying to reclaim the acronym NAMBLA?

    Posted by: RedOnTheGreg | Jul 4, 2011 4:16:47 PM

  13. I'm pretty sure the Raelians aren't even correct in this; if my memory isn't failing me, the symbol meant to represent peace in Asian cultures is a /backward/ swastika, called a manji.

    Posted by: Yuki | Jul 4, 2011 6:28:27 PM

  14. i was at Toronto pride all weekend, the raelians weren't there or marching in the parade on Sunday

    Posted by: andi72 | Jul 5, 2011 10:45:46 AM

  15. The swastika has been a symbol of well being long before the 20th century and will continue to be so long after. One group of evil people misappropriated it temporarily. Three billion people have always maintained it as a symbol of peace.

    Posted by: Jan Oberholzer | Jul 17, 2011 12:33:03 AM

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