A small town in New York has voted to retain the name ‘Swastika’, stating that it was named after the Sanskrit word meaning ‘well-being’ and not after the Nazi’s principal symbol, CNN reported.
A four-member board representing the town of Black Brook, which has authority over the hamlet, unanimously voted in favour of keeping the name after just five minutes of discussions.
According to Black Brook Supervisor Jon Douglass, the town of Swastika was named by its original settlers in the 1800s. “We regret that individuals, for out of the area, that lack the knowledge of the history of our community become offended when they see the name,” he told CNN.
“To the members of our community, that the board represents, it is the name that their ancestors chose,” he added. Douglass told NPR that a name change has been proposed by different people several times after World War II.
“There’s a long history there. For the uneducated that immediately assume it’s connected to Germans and Hitler, it’s not. Swastika means ‘to prosper’,” he said.
The most recent call to change the name came after New York City-based cyclist Michael Alcamo noticed a town sign bearing its name while passing through the area. He reached out to local officials and urged them to consider a new name.
“I think it should be obvious that the town should update its name and should pick a name that is not so offensive to so many Americans and so emblematic of intolerance, hate and tyranny,” he told NPR. However, Black Brook’s board members refused his request.
Their vote comes amidst a nationwide racial reckoning sparked by the custodial killing of African American man George Floyd in Minneapolis, earlier this year. The ‘Nazi’ has long been considered a hate symbol and associated with white supremacy in Europe and the US.
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