Are Those Swastikas?

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Generally, the streets of Los Angeles are navigated via car, but if you ever find yourself walking up Highland Avenue toward Los Angeles’ famous Hollywood Boulevard where you’ll find thousands of dirty stars engraved with celebrity names and the icons depicting their craft, you might come across another symbol or two along the way.  Just north of the Highland and Sunset intersection there’s a stretch of sidewalk adjacent to Hollywood High. Here you will not find the names of Hollywood’s past and present, but rather two swastikas carved into the pavement with lesser known symbols and names.

It’s unknown how long these symbols of hate have defaced the public sidewalk, but it’s amazing that they have gone undetected by city officials and have been allowed to permeate a belief that’s been dead for over 60 years.

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To voice your concerns regarding this issue contact Los Angeles City Council President Eric Garcetti via email or through the information below:

5500 Hollywood Blvd., 4th Floor
Hollywood, CA 90028
Phone: 323-957-4500
http://www.lacity.org/council/cd13/

22 Responses to “Are Those Swastikas?”


  1. 1 John April 14, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    So? Swastika is known since Neolithic in ancient India for thousands and thousands of years as a symbol of wishing well and luck.
    Then more we think of swastika like something forbidden and criminal, then more it will appear in this context. Let swastika live and people soon will remember it only while reading books about history.

    I am from Latvia and in our culture we had swastika (called Cross of Thunder) like more than thousand years ago.

  2. 2 discarted April 14, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    john-

    so do you think it would be okay for me to put a swastika on a get well card to one of my jewish friends whenever they’re ill?

  3. 3 John April 14, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Human beings are able to think 🙂

  4. 4 discarted April 14, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    Agreed, but some can’t directly answer questions posed to them.

  5. 5 Booger April 15, 2009 at 9:25 am

    I dont think John is avoiding your question. I get his point, the weight of symbols is more often found in their context, rather than in the symbol themselves.

    Besides, you didnt pose a question as much as create a straw man.

  6. 6 discarted April 15, 2009 at 10:56 am

    okay booger, do you think it would be okay to wear a swastika to a friend’s bar mitzvah? it is the perfect time to wish the person well.

    what’s the first thought or image that you think of when you see a swastika? do you think of it as a symbol of hate or something else, because the Anti-Defamation League thinks it represents hate

    http://www.adl.org/hate_symbols/neo_nazi_symbols.asp

    here’s a photo that was used by CNN yesterday to show the rise of extremism in america. it’s interesting that the members of these groups are carrying swastika covered flags.

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/POLITICS/04/14/extremism.report/

    i guess the swastika is all about luck and wishing people well

  7. 7 John April 15, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    Dear discarted,

    Just think for a bit. Is that a swastika that made those people you mention extremists? And what if those people would wear a star, like a Russians which killed tens of millions of innocent people in Gulag? So we should ban the star? Ban stars out of American flag?
    How about the crusaders, which were killing innocents for thousand years under the sign of cross? What about them? So we should take a cross out of our churches also?
    Just think for a moment.

    As I told, Human beings are able to think. That is what made us Homo sapiens.

  8. 8 discarted April 15, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    John

    Those are great points, but no one here asked for any symbol to be banned. We’re big supporters of the 1st Amendment, but this is on a public sidewalk that is maintained via tax dollars. And yes it appears that most homo sapiens are able to think but it seems it’s difficult for some to give a clear answer to a question they were asked.

    Do you think it would be okay for me to put a swastika on a get well card and send it to jewish friend who is ill? What do you think would be my jewish friends’ first thought?

    Do you think it would be acceptable to wear a swastika to a bar mitzvah because you believe it’s a symbol of “wishing well and luck”? A bar mitsvah is the perfect time to wish a young jewish adult well.

    While I was taking this photo some jewish people (yarmulkes and all) walked by me and asked me what I was doing. I showed them the swastika and they were offended immediately, so to some, their first reaction to seeing a swastika is not positive — they’re offended by it and these are homo sapiens that are able to think.

    Churches are not public property, so they have ever right to have crosses in their buildings. If church members started carving the cross in the cement on public property then there would be a problem.

    Are there any symbols in Latvia culture that are offensive?

  9. 9 Booger April 15, 2009 at 3:05 pm

    Your “sending swastikas to jews” point would be valid if you were walking through a Rite-Aid and saw a greeting card with a swastika on it. But you didnt. You saw it anonymously and randomly carved in to a slab of concrete. So maybe you should ask if John would mail a slab of concrete with a swastika carved in it to his ill jewish friend? I doubt John, or any other rational human being, would send a swastika (be it carved in concrete or on a get well card) to a jew.

  10. 10 discarted April 15, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    well booger, maybe at some point john could answer the question himself.

    just because i “randomly came across the swastika carved into a slab of concrete” does not make it less offensive because the five jewish people I showed it to while photographing the symbol were completely offended and disgusted by the swastika. and the fact that it was etched into a public sidewalk a few blocks north of an orthodox neighborhood really upset them.

    Your newest comment also seems to contradict your earlier statement where you wrote, “I dont think John is avoiding your question. I get his point, the weight of symbols is more often found in their context, rather than in the symbol themselves.”

    However, it appears you’re now saying the swastika symbol is offensive no matter what the context is because you now wrote, “I doubt John, or any other rational human being, would send a swastika (be it carved in concrete or on a get well card) to a jew.”

    So now it appears you’re saying the swastika is offensive to jews irrelevant of the context, that it is innately offensive even though John claimed it is a symbol of wishing well and luck and you agreed with him.

    Are you now saying that the swastika symbol could never be given to jews as a symbol of wishing well and good luck? I’m confused?

    If that’s the case and you believe the swastika is offensive because the symbol is generally associated with nazism and extremism, I agree with you because 99% of people in America would not associate the swastika with luck.

  11. 11 John April 15, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    Dear discarted,

    I am not arguing with you here.
    In Latvian culture we have swastika and suwastika (reversed cross of thunder, cross of fire) as one of our national symbols for more than thousand years. I found one page http://www.liis.lv/majtur-psk/raksti/perkons.htm with description of this symbol. Hope that Google translate will promptly translate it from Latvian.
    What I would like to happen is that people could separate the symbol from actual persons doing something wrong. And the first step should be separation of those two in our minds.
    Yes I agree, that some extremists still want to rise the anger and hostility between some ethnical or social classes, but, if we all could say that symbol is just a symbol, we would take that armor out of their hands.
    We should NOT forget the history of our planet and all the bad things Nazis did to us (yes, Latvians were also tortured and killed by Nazis during WW2 on our ground (in Salaspils concentration camp) as well as sent to labor and concentration camps in Europe), BUT we have to find a power inside each of us to forgive. Because hate is one way road leading to nowhere…

  12. 12 Browne April 24, 2009 at 3:57 pm

    Some of the commenters here are insane. Obviously a swastika in the US and Europe in the mainstream culture is an offensive symbol.

    And John from Latvia, your counry has a special place in history in regards to killing Jewish people, so don’t act as if you are confused as to what a Swastika stands for.

    90% of Latvia’s jewish population died in the Holocaust so stop acting like a moron, like it could mean something else, you know 99.999% of the time Swastika’s in the US have nothing to do with peace and light or thunder gods, unless that thunder god was in Das Rheingold by Wagner and we know how he felt about Jewish people.

    Yeah and people have been anti-semitic for 1000s of years…i.e the Bible.

    Check out this book:

    http://www.amazon.com/Holocaust-Latvia-1941-1944-Missing-Center/dp/9984905438

    Browne

  13. 13 Jimmy June 25, 2009 at 12:10 pm

    I get the point that discarted is making, but I must agree with Booger and John.

    The simple fact of the matter is that the swastika symbol has been around for thousands of years, dating back to antiquity and associated with many religions (Hindu’s, Buddhists, Christians and even American Indians).

    Unfortunately, the Nazi’s gave this once peaceful symbol a VERY bad name.

    To answer discarted’s question; No, I would never send a card with a swastika to a Jewish friend. However, I would definetly send one to a Hindu, Buddhist, or certain Eastern European friends. The point of the matter is, COMMON SENSE must prevail.

    A little background info here…
    My grandfather fought against the Nazi’s in WWII. I was a paratrooper in the U.S. Army for 8 years and absolutely despise what the Nazi’s (and other like minded groups) stood for and still represent.

    During my time in service, I was one of the first U.S. soldiers sent to Latvia after the wall came down. During that deployment, I was made an honorary member of the Latvian Zemessardzes (51’st Dobele). My induction papers and other items prominently display the thunder cross. I also observed this symbol on many other items throughout the country (mostly forms of artwork / jewelry).

    The point is, in this culture the symbol does not stand for the racism / hatred the Nazi’s represented. It is more of a symbol for wishing good luck and as a reminder to do good deeds.

    In other words “discarted”, you need to learn the complete history of the symbol – to include its usage and meanings. You also need to learn how to keep things in proper context and use common sense.

  14. 14 discarted June 25, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    Well, Jimmy I live in the US where the Swatsika is primarily used as a symbol of hate, and not good luck, which is why you agree you wouldn’t send a swastika get well card to a Jewish friend in America. I’m not arguing for or against what the symbol stands for in other countries. However, whenever you see Swatsikas painted on Jewish temples, buildings, cemeteries, etc it is seen as a hate crime and not a good luck wish. And if the people are caught they are generally prosecuted as criminals, not thanked for wishing the Jewish community well.

    Jimmy, I do know the history of the symbol, however, my commons sense tells me that this swastika carved into the sidewalk near a Jewish part of Los Angeles is not a good luck wish.

    I don’t know how many times I’ll have to write this here, but in the United States the swastika DOES NOT represent good luck. It represents hate.

    Would any of your US friends get a swastika tattoo because it stands for good luck? And proudly display at a neighborhood pool party, or the beach? No they wouldn’t.

    What do you think would be the innate response to a swastika tattoo on a man’s back in the US?

  15. 15 Jimmy June 25, 2009 at 4:05 pm

    Discarted,

    First let me clarify that I would not send a swastika to a Jewish friend anywhere in the world. However, I would send one to a Hindu or Buddhist friend if the occasion called for it.

    Unfortunately, the Nazi usage of this symbol has, for the most part, destroyed its true meaning in the US. You are very correct in the assumption that the vast majority of Americans (and most people in the western world, for that matter) view it as a symbol of hate.

    In your original post, you did not mention that the sidewalk carvings were in a Jewish majority location. Again, that goes to the context of their usage in this particular case and strongly implies a racist / supremacist message. Now, if it were in a Hindu, Buddhist or even a native American neighborhood it might be a different story.

    As for the scumbags that deface religious sites with the symbol or defile themselves with obviously racist tatoo’s… As a retired Police Officer, I can say that it was my pleasure to arrest several during my time on the force.

    You ask what would I think of any “US friends” displaying the swastika. Again context comes into play as America is the Great Melting Pot. Being half Irish and half Apache myself, I am living proof. I have “US friends” from all walks of life, including many of the races, creeds, religions and cultures mentioned throughout this post. In certain homes, or on certain bodies, it would not surprise me at all and could be considered in good taste. However, if I observed these same symbols displayed or tatooed on certain others they would no longer be among my “US friends”.

    Please don’t get me wrong, I do get your point. It is just unfortunate that such a benign and common ancient symbol was corrupted in this manner. I do not believe that any other symbol or design throughout history has recieved as much negative press or criticism in such a short period of time. I find it almost incomprehensible that a symbol seen as peaceful for literally thousands of years could be almost utterly destroyed (in the western world, anyway) within a decade by only one group of the many associated with it.

    Now, it you really want something think about, consider the “rising sun” symbol used by the Japanese. During WWII the Japanese military committed many horrendous war crimes, up to and including cannibalism. While they did not target the Jewish people, consider what they did to any population that they occupied. Also, consider their treatment of any POW’s they captured. But these days, kid’s with rising sun tatoo’s or Japanese writing tatoo’s are just considered hip, or cool, or whatever lingo they use these days. Strange and unjust in a way, isn’t it?

    As for my display of my Latvian items that have swastika’s, they reside in a shadow box along side my military medals & badges and my Police badge and awards – all proudly displayed over my fireplace.

    Now my grandfather, who flew over Europe in B-17’s in WWII, has seen these. He understands the difference in the usage of the symbols and the ideology behind the different groups and does not have any problem with my display.

  16. 16 Kaoru June 29, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Well the swastikas that are carved into the concrete are not the Nazi ones. I’m guessing the people that carved them are morons. The Nazi ones are typically pointing clockwise. The religious version is counter-clockwise.

  17. 17 Jimmy June 29, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    Kaoru,

    I think that your “moron” theory is probably correct. It has been my experience that most who use it in a hateful manner are morons.

  18. 18 Bec September 28, 2009 at 8:51 am

    Okay people,
    Swastikas are the most common symbol use din our ancient history, so you cannot get offended by the way John see it. I where a Latvian good luck ring with seven symbols on it, one being the Fire (or thunder) Cross, or how you would see it, a swastika. It is also located in Egyptian culture as well as many Asian cultures. Yet you are so narrow minded to think that it is an evil symbol. Of coarse you wouldn’t send a swastika to a Jewish friend for good wishes because a symbol only holds meaning to it’s holder therefor a swastika to a Jew means something different to a Latvian. It is stupid that it has become an offensive symbol because Hitler decided to steal it from Buddhists. What about Poseidon’s Triton? Is it not the same as the Devil’s pitchfork? Yet Disney still decides to use it in their films.

    So hey, guess what, this symbol has different meanings, as does EVERY single thing on this earth. You shouldn’t be so narrow minded to think that it is evil. It is only evil if the user of the symbol means it in a harmful way (i.e. your swastika card).

  19. 19 Will Campbell October 27, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    I can appreciate the defense of the symbol from an historic or cultural perspective, but anyone calling Discarted narrow minded while simultaneously rationalizing away the obvious moronic hateful intent of the sidewalk swastikas featured in this post has an awareness that would fit through the eye of a needle.

  20. 20 mr walker November 9, 2009 at 1:28 am

    i wonder how a jewish indian would react to the swastika? they’re painted or carved onto virtually every building, in that country.

    i also wonder how many hindus live in the USA, compared to the jewish population?

    given that the only nazi connotation attached to these particular sawastikas is their apparent proximity to a jewish “neighbourhood,” with such enclaves often being geographically vague and porous, i think it’s fair to allow the symbol some contextual latitude. if it were done as part of a nazi flag, or accompanying anti-semitic words, or placed outside a synagogue .. well, the intent would be obvious – but placed as it is here, the meaning is far from explicit.

    i think if western societies jump and attack every single time the swastika is seen, the symbol will retain every ounce of nazi potency that it has had since hitler, and will not have a chance to reclaim some of its older meaning. and that’s kinda sad, on top of all the bad things that happened back then.

    i’m not suggesting anyone forgets what happened under the swastika banner, i’m just saying more westerners – including jews – should try to appreciate the longer history of the symbol, and its place in the wider world. i believe we’d diminish the ideological fascination of nazism by diluting the negative symbolic potency of the swastika. i mean, how long are we to keep being offended by it, in an increasingly multicultural world?

  21. 21 Rohit Patel February 16, 2010 at 1:16 am

    Honestly speaking, the word aryan, the symbol swastika it represent supiriorty and that is the facts. The twisting and fabracating has been adapted by western society. Thanks to hindu intellegent, only very few people are aware of this true facts. This name & symbol were created to keep other race at bay.

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