The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current, September 04, 1998, Page 5, Image 5

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AARON COOPER is a senior
English major and a Daily
Nebraskan columnist
In Hartford, Conn., after Adolf Hitler and
the Nazi regime came to power in Germany, die
entire floor of a synagogue’s vestibule was tom
out because its craftsmanship exhibited numer
ous depictions of the swastika.
After Wxkl War 0, the swastika came to sym
bolize genocide and hatred toward Jews and other
diverse groups. It still remains a symbol of hatred
and racism in much of the Western world. But it
wasn’t- and isn’t- always so. In both history and
modem times, the symbol has diverse meanings.
Just a few years ago, when Nepalese citizens
went to the polls to vote, they expressed their
choice of leaders by stamping a swastika next to
the name of their preference.
In Tibet, it is customary for farmers to place a
swastika on die doors of their homes with die
belief it will protect them from evil. A similar cus
tom is practiced by Irish farmers, who call the
swastika a Brigit’s cross.
Navajo medicine men use colored sand to cre
ate artistic swastikas on the floor while they per
form their curative rites.
Cuna Indians in Panama often place swastikas
in designs on colorful blouses.
Indian boys, in parts of the world, paint
swastikas on their shaved heads as a benediction
The swastika is an important symbol to prac
ticing Buddhists and Hindus - a symbol that is
prominently displayed in huge lanterns that hang
from die Senso-ji Buddhist temple in Tokyo’s
Asajusa district
According to the Friends of the Swastika, a
modem grass roots movement, the swastika was
the very first Christian symbol and can be found
in catacombs in Rome.
In America, Coca-Cola came out with a
swastika-shaped lucky watch fob in the 1920s.
Swastika, Ontario, a name that remains today, was
named so in 1911, after a lucky gold strike. Many
children there attend classes every day at Swastika
Public School
Indeed, the swastika is commonplace and not
offensive in many parts of die world.
Though it isn’t hard to understand why the
symbol carries horrific connotations for us, the
origin of the word far precedes the swastika-tout
ing regime responsible for the Holocaust, a
slaughter of 6 million Jews.
The term was derived from the Sanskrit word
Svastikah, which means “being fortunate.”
Striking gold certainly qualifies as being for
tunate. It seems the U.S. Capitol is fortunate, too.
A close look at the Capitol building in
Washington, D.C., reveals several friezes, or
cloths similar to banners which am formed out of
swastikas. A number of pieces in tiie Metropolitan
Museum in New York show them as well.
A painting found in Mawangdui, China, in the
1970s depicts the swastika on a silk tapestry that
was scientifically dated around 300 B.C.
Some sources claim the swastika has been
around for as many as 10,000 years.
For too long, the inhumane connotations of
the Nazi movement in World War II Germany
have caused the swastika to be, more than any
tiling else, a symbol of hatred and pained memo
ries for much of the Western world. We associate
it with the Nazi party, genocide, suffering, perse
cution, racism and the threat to civilized order as
we know it
For many who lost loved ones and relatives in
the Holocaust and in other brutal acts of intoler
ance, this attitude toward the swastika is justified.
But for rest of us, we allow the symbol’s use
for hate and hate crimes to continue as long as we
let its negative meanings massively outweigh the
positive ones.
Hitler and the Nazi movement of the 1930s
and ’40s have held the swastika hostage for too
long. They have used it for such horrific acts that
we cannot begin to erase it as a mark of human
Still, die Nazis and the neo-Nazis have no reg
istered copyrights on the use ofthe swastika. We
allow them this exclusive privilege through our
blind censorship and ignorant associations as long
as we continue to see one meaning - one grue
some face attached to one of humankind’s oldest
known symbols.
We must cast out the inhumanity and gross
acts of terror that have plagued our understanding
of the swastika for so long and recognize the true
meaning behind a symbol that our ancient ances
tors intended as one of peace and healing.
Granted, it is easy forme to say we should for
get what happened more than 50 years ago and
concentrate on what is happening today.
For the relatives and family members of
deceased and living victims of the Holocaust, this
is an impossibility.
Maybe the answer is not to forget Maybe the
answer is not to cast out the negative with the pos
itive. It seems the only realistic answer is to shift
the balance back to where it belongs, to where we
have control over the past rather than it having
control over us.
To allow the swastika to remain in the hands
of the Nazis is the worst disservice we can do to
the Indians of North, Central and South America.
It is an act of cowardice toward die peoples of
India, Tibet and China.
It is a letdown to the Basques, to the French,
to the Greek, to the Swiss, to the Japanese and to
the Irish - all of whom have deeply rooted tradi
tions and beliefs involving the use of the swastika.
As long as we let Hitler’s ugly power deter
mine the worth of the ancient symbol, it will con
tinue to be a disservice to the Ashantis of Africa,
to theTlingits of Alaska, to the Hopis in the
United States and to the Cunas in Panama.
The swastika was created by ancient people
who intended it to mean the opposite of what
many of us still believe it to mean. They intended
it as a symbol of friendship, laughter, good luck,
joy and a symbol of the act of human kindness,
not to be overcast by acts of human cruelty.
In America, communities are still confronted
by recent controversy about die swastika. The city
of Glendale, Calif., has 1,000 light poles in city
limits that bear the swastika and have offended
many residents rfnd non-residents.
Jewish Defense League National Chairman
Irv Rubin argues that the swastika is decisively
nothing mote than a symbol of hatred toward
Jewish people. The city argues that it is in fact an
ancient symbol of Buddhist tradition.
Beyond the First Amendment rights, which
religious symbols in public are subject to, Rubin
was quoted as saying, ‘1 don’t buy this insane logic
that these twisted crosses are ancient Eastern good
luck religious symbols. The swastika is m insult to
the memory of millions of people who suffered at
the hands of the Nazis. It is an insult to the sur
vivors ofNazi brutality. It is an insult to Americans
of all political and religious persuasions.”
I have to disagree with Rubin on he issue of it
being “an insult to Americans of all political and
religious persuasion.” It is not an insult to me. It
should not be an insult to any of us, even those
who are Jewish, unless we allow it to be.
A swastika, as far as the Holocaust is con
cerned, is nothing more than a symbol misused
for hatred, murder and violence. And we are let
ting it stand for exactly what Hitler wanted it to
_ 14* A
siauu h«—/\ryan supicmacy.
What if Saddam Hussein decided to take the
Christian cross or Star of David as his symbol?
Would we then hate that symbol and tear it in dis
gust from our churches and synagogues forever?
An ignorant kid spray painting or drawing a jj&k 1
swastika on a bathroom stall oca warehouse wallv
shouldn’t cause us pain. It can be a symbol of
prosperity and good hick. If we tafee^ittoment to
consider its historical worth, it can be a symbol of
people coming together and not being tom apart
Cooper’s Law: Ignorance is only a weapon if
you allow it to be.
For those who haven’t suffered injustice by
the former bearers of the swastika- choose to be
educated as to.the swastika’s original intent .
Tell your friends. Instill this knowledge in
your children so that they will not grow up to be
the products of history books that teach us half
Though I don’t advocate the use of the sym
offocusing on»hspmod!ofnrisuse_,^§^^^^
Never ending story
Completion of union renovation is long overdue
senior finance and eco
nomics major and a Daily
Nebraskan columnist,
I’ve been having some weird
dreams lately. They’re not sexual and
they’re not exciting.
Instead, I feel as if I’m Marty
McFty stuck in a “Back to the Future”
I wake up in a daze, and some
woman who looks like my mom is
comforting me. She says, “Everything
is okay. The union expansion was
completed yesterday. Your college
days will now be peaceful.”
Just when I start to relax, she says,
“Yes, you’re fine here in the year
Maybe these dreams wouldn’t be
so scary if they were not realistic.
Unfortunately, nobody knows when
the Nebraska Union will be done.
Never mind that we have already
shelled out $20 for a hazard. A nui
sance. A student-financed public rela
tions trophy that the administrators
can brag about
Maybe you enjoy paying student
fees. Maybe you think your $20 has
beat wisely used when you realize
tint you probably have financed one
day’s breaks for one worker. How do
you think Sally Struthers started spon
soring children internationally? She
too has sponsored a construction
So, when will the union be done?
A simple look at the expanding time
line doesn’t answer that question.
When students voted in approval
of the renovation and expansion in
1995, they were told that die construc
tion would be completed by mid-1998
with a deadline of Aug. 12.
sponsor all the workers.
So, let’s place ourselves in a hypo
thetical situation. Pretend we are in
the year 2010, and the union is com
pleted. What now? What will be in
this glorious new union?
There will be no dry cleaning star
tion, no barbershop, no video-rental
store and no pizza parlor. But there
will be Burger King, Amigo’s,
chairs. Most of us already have chairs
in our rooms at home. Is that all I
bought with my money? I’m afraid so.
Now my friends argue with that
thought They point out that my $20
has also bought me the headaches I
get every time I look at die north side
of the union. I have bought die back
tracking walk it takes to get from the
few union entrances to my home.
m may,
Nebraska Unions
Director Daryl
Swanson said die
plaza, recreation
room and north
entrance would be
accessible by fall.
He also stated that
the central construc
tion will not be fin
ished until mid
Well, we’re here,
in the fall, and those
areas are not accessi
Unless you
sneak across campus
in the middle of
night and crawl
through die embar
rassing north side of
the union, there is
not an accessible
north entrance.
If you do decide
+a 0An«y«ti frit*
wmie me wooa
chips in my sandals
and the mud on the
bottoms can be over
g | come, I don’t know
|| how to get by die
l| emotional duress
W undergone with
\ every pass of the
If they’re going
to take forever, tell
us. If they aren’t
going to be done on
r time, tell us. But
^ don’t make us pay
\ for it >
^ We’re not here to
I pay for our brothers’
L and sisters’ educa
m tion. We’re also not
P here to pay for their
|| union.
p If you are gradu
ating this year, I
thank you for the
donation. I’m sure it
— u.__i
- TflM W U^/^/lWlUVVU
imaginative north entrance, let me Imperial Palace Express and Subway, by the Class of 2010. Unfortunately,
know if you cross a clear plaza on fee At least our fees will finance a bunch you got screwed,
way. ofnew chairs for the same old food If you are going to be in school for
Inside construction is now set to places. a while, you may luck out \bu may
run through the spring semester. I think my student fees are high eventually be able to walk about the
Rumor has it that many are fearful of enough already. I thick more than union peacefully,
another construction-filled semester. $200 per semester phis $4 per credit But this doesn’t mean that we have
If enrollment is nothigh enough, there hour for technology fees is enough. I been treated fairly. We need to be sure
won’t be enough $20 payments to don’t need $20 each semester to buy that the decision-makers on campus
understand that they affect our lives
with their verdicts.
We are represented by the
Committee for Fees Allorations. Get
hold of the chairfrign, Paul Schreier,
through the AStJNbflfice. Tell him M|r|j§
don’t need to paty tor something wg&M
not even using.
Daryl Swanson may dunk dial the
union is “being used” because people
are sitting in the chairs. Well, you
could fight the battle of semantics
with him and lose. Or you could track
him down and remind him that you’re
not happy with die constant mess.
Swanson may want the new union
because it will be an uplifting part of
everyone’s day. People will be happy
and comfortable when they hang out
in the union.
Well, considering the mess we’ve
faced for the past two years, it may
take a Ferris wheel to make the union
a place of fond memories.
You may read this and think
or?* ___x__»
uiuaiuui lA^vud iu 41m winning.
Yeah, it’s only $20 each semester. It’s
only a small pain to walk out of my
way every day for class.
Well, it’s not about the dollar
amount If I had paid $5 for a never
ending construction project I would
want to know where my money went
It’s the principle of the matter.
Ws are college students. If we are
shelling out money, it Would be nice
to know it is for something useful.
The extra money is for your movies,
pizza, beer, TV dinners and Chef
So, as you wait patiently for the
expansion to be completed, I Wish you
good hick navigating around the
plaza, the bikers who to try to squeeze
onto the trails and your own construc
tion worker.
Just watch out for falling objects.