Target: Ricky Roehr, President of the North American Raelian Movement
Goal: Improve clarity of pro-swastika messages to avoid anti-Semitic interpretations.
Recently, a plane flew over the shores of New Jersey pulling a swastika banner. A group called the International Raelian Movement claimed responsibility, explaining on their website that the purpose of the display was to celebrate the original, benevolent meaning behind the ancient symbol. This message was not at all clear to the public, however, which reacted with shock and offense. The Jewish community was especially affected, as was apparent by the numerous complaints made by its members.
It’s true that the swastika predates the Nazi regime by hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of years. Its original meaning is one of good luck and well-being. To ignore the swastika’s more recent use in World War II, however, is disrespectful to the vast American Jewish community, second only to Israel’s in population. While awareness of the swastika’s original meaning is relatively low, recognition of the Nazi Army’s use of the symbol has been fixed in our minds from the actual events of the Holocaust and through the in-depth Holocaust curriculum in our public schools.
For the International Raelian Movement to display the swastika in such a deliberate manner without clear indication of its intentions is callous and misguided. While the group did provide a website address alongside the airplane banner, it is unrealistic to assume that the public would have immediate access to the internet in order to understand the message. The age of the population that actually experienced World War II firsthand is unlikely to use the internet at all, leaving them without any explanation for the seemingly malicious display. The International Raelian Movement should practice more thoughtful methods of obtaining its goals. By signing the petition below, you can ask Ricky Roehr, the president of the group’s North American branch, to provide more clear and immediate explanations alongside future displays of the swastika symbol.
Dear Mr. Roehr,
Your organization’s recent airplane swastika display in New Jersey was received with shock and offense by the general public. While the intentions of your message were clearly posted on your website, the message was not immediately apparent to viewers of the swastika banner. Providing a web address was not enough, as is apparent by the outrage that resulted in response to your actions. Please keep in mind that the citizens who actually experienced the Holocaust firsthand are not of the age group that typically uses the internet. These people were exposed to your seemingly anti-Semitic display without any access to further information, leaving them to assume malicious intent.
While your organization’s goals to rehabilitate the swastika symbol are well-intentioned, your methods are insensitive. Please consider future public displays more carefully, and provide clear and immediate explanations of your intentions.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: antwerpenR via everystockphoto.