A small community in northern New York decided to keep its name of "Swastika," when a man inquired about changing it after stumbling across the sign on his bike. NPR reports that NYC resident Michael Alcamo had been cycling through northern New York recently, when he was taken aback by a small street sign that read, "Swastika." He contacted the board members of the the nearby town of Black Brook, and they have ultimately decided to not change the name.
"Swastika was named by the founders of the area who settled there," said Black Brook's supervisor Jon Douglass, who was present at the Sept. 14 meeting when the town's four councilors voted against changing the name. While Douglass acknowledged that the swastika has a negative connotation after WWII, he stressed that the town was named long before the symbol was co-opted by Hitler and the nazis in the '30s. Prior to the war, the symbol in Sanskrit meant "well-being," and remains in use among Hinduism and Buddhism communities to this day.
Unsurprisingly, this isn't the first time there has been concern regarding the name of the location. "There was concern that due to the Germans and everything that people may have a different outlook on the name," Douglass added. "And some of the residents that were from that area actually fought in World War II and refused to change the name just because Hitler tried to tarnish the meaning of swastika."
The rise in white supremacy across the United States is a real concern among countless Americans, but Douglass insisted that he and others in the community "do not associate it with hate." He added, "Did the Hundus and the [Buddhists] and all them, did they erase it from their relgiious history because of the Germans?"
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