In a positive development on Monday, the Town Council of Black Brook in Clinton County in Northern New York voted unanimously against a proposal to change the name of one of the hamlets, ‘Swastika.’ The decision was made after a New York City resident Michael Alcamo raked up the issue before the Town Council and sought a name change after surveying the residents of the area.
Reportedly, the hamlet drew the name of Swastika in 1913 after the federal government provided a list of all potential names. The unincorporated area was earlier known as Goodrich Mills. The name change took place after a post-office named ‘Swastika’ was established in the hamlet in 1913. The Council noted that the Holy Hindu symbol pre-dated the Nazi era, and is revered in Hinduism and Buddhism since time immemorial.
Town Council rejects proposal to change name
Alcamo stated in an email, “Biking in the area, you see many beautiful, historic cemeteries, many with American flags marking the graves of Americans who fought and died fighting for liberty. Then, you come upon the town of Swastika, whose very name symbolizes the intolerance, hate, and tyranny of the Nazi regime those brave Americans gave their lives to defeat. It doesn’t make sense. It dishonors their sacrifice. It is time to come up with another name for Swastika Road and the town [hamlet] of Swastika.”
The Town Council comprised of four members, namely Ronald Wilkins, Howard Aubin, James Seguin and James Martineau. They expressed their opposition to the request for the name change and outrightly voted against it. “I was disappointed by the board’s decision. The board had an opportunity to do something positive. Another option would have been to consider it for 90 days and ask the community or ask state officials what they think,” Alcamo lamented.
Swastika means to prosper, emphasises Town Council supervisor
Town Supervisor Jon Douglass emphasised that the request for a name change was made several times in the past. He emphasised, “Once was after World War II. (Residents) adamantly opposed, and did not want to change the name. 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.”
Dismissing concerns about the supposed hate symbol, Douglass further added, “I think that’s probably, maybe some viewpoint that it’s associated with hate. But then I believe there are others that do not associate it with hate. I mean swastika was used in numerous religions. Did the Hindus and the [Buddhists] … did they erase it from their religious history because of the Germans?”
Nazi symbol different from Swastika
A religious symbol for Hindus, the Swastika was first mentioned in the Vedas. It symbolises many things like Surya (the sun) and Brahma, the creator. It is seen as a power symbol and is also the emblem of Ganesha, the god of good luck. In both Hinduism and Jainism, the Swastika is used to mark the opening pages of account books, doors, and thresholds.
In fact, it is found that the Swatika was also used in Ancient Greece and can be found in the remains of the ancient city of Troy, which existed 4,000 years ago. The ancient Druids and the Celts also used the symbol. It was used by Nordic tribes and even early Christians used the Swastika as one of their symbols, including the Teutonic Knights, a German medieval military order, which became a purely religious Catholic Order.
Adolf Hitler never used the word ‘Swastika.’ He referred to it as the ‘Hakenkreuz (Hooked Cross). Reportedly, he first saw it in Lambach abbey, a Christian missionary, when he was a young boy. Hooked cross can be found in old churches, cathedrals and chapels and have been a sacred symbol in CHristianity since time immemorial.