In Indonesia in 2010 a Muslim organization forced a Buddhist temple to remove a Buddha statue from public view. Wouldn’t happen in the US, right? That’s the kind of intolerance Americans are against. As Ron Meier, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League’s New York office told Fox News this week, the city is all about diversity. Oh, sorry, no.
It was an “innocent mistake,” says Meier. But who’s making it? Bejewelled, a jewelry store in Greenpoint, Brooklyn owned by Miss Young Sook Kim, had been selling Hindu/Buddhist swastika earrings for $5.99. Visit the cozy “lemon hued” shop, and you’ll be given a “silk-lined straw basket for corralling” the shop’s sections, where you can buy “Totes, evening clutches, and jeweled hair accessories,” says NY Mag
Is this shop really a magnet for neo-Nazi haters?
Despite clearly rotating in the opposite direction to the Nazi swastika, as most Buddhist, and even neo-Pagan swastikas do, pressure from one NY Councilman, as well as politicians, the Anti-Defamation League, and the media, has been brought down hard on Miss Kim.
New York City Councilman Steve Levin personally visited the store and “demanded” the Korean owner remove them from her shelves.
According to Fox News, “A day earlier, politicians and advocates told FoxNews.com that the earrings were the latest example of anti-Semitism in New York and New Jersey. Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer demanded that the store immediately stop selling them.”
Remember, these are Hindu/Buddhist — and, yes, occasionally neo-Pagan — symbols. The swastika traditionally represents peace — and, by traditionally, I mean for the few thousand years before Nazis. Moreover, the Nazis called the symbol — not the “swastika” — but the Hakenkreuz (“Hooked Cross”). Swastika is a Sanskrit word, not a German one. According to Max Muller, swasti appears frequently as a noun for “happy” and as an adverb meaning “well.” The word breaks down as:
Su: good, well, prosperity.
Asti: “to be”
Ka: suffix forming the substantive.
Meier says that he was instrumental in getting the earrings removed. Although he acknowledges that the owner understood them — correctly — as Hindu/Buddhist, as far as he’s concerned the fact that other people will wrongly interpret it as a sign of evil is reason enough to have it effectively banned.
“It took a little while to really bridge the cultural divide,” he says, “because they really understood it in one way and New York understood it in very much a different way.” Or, because they understood the earrings — which were manufactured in India — in the right way, i.e., as Buddhist/Hindu earrings.
As a Fox interviewer notes, “the owner didn’t comprehend the offense because from Miss Kim’s standpoint it’s not a Nazi symbol. The swastika is also a symbol in ancient Indian religions like Hinduism and Buddhism.” But that doesn’t matter.
Lyndon LaRouche PAC currently has a campaign that uses a photo of President Obama with a Hitler mustache. It’s in bad taste. You can see the Larouche teams around NY, prominently displaying the image. You can buy tee-shirts with communist symbols on them or with the face of Che Guevera, a man who had the firing squad shoot political prisoners outside his office window so he could enjoy the spectacle each morning. But, the occasional offensive image is the price you pay for freedom.
Here’s my question to those offended by the sacred symbol of Hinduism and Budhism — and let’s not forget neo-Paganism: For many Muslims the Star of David is a symbol of the oppression of the Palestinians. That’s how they see it. You disagree, but will you be consistent and support Muslims or non-Muslim political activists who call for it to be banned in areas where Muslims make up a certain percentage?
Well, you’ve set a great precedent, haven’t you?