Facing Up To A Swastika: Jesup Green Event Set For Today

Longtime Westport activist Darcy Hicks writes:

Tonight at 5 p.m., on Jesup Green, we will come together to define who we are as a community, in a struggling country.

Anti-Semitic incidents have been increasing in America at an alarming rate. The Anti-Defamation League says that in 2017, anti-Semitic incidents jumped 57% over the previous year, and 2018 showed the third-highest rate of incidents on record. This year is faring no better.

Westport — as we know from last week — is not immune.

The discovery of a swastika, carved into a bathroom wall, has challenged our community. The question is how we deal with that challenge.

We need to focus not on “who?” but “how?” How did the plague of hatred in this struggling nation manage to puncture our town? Whether the perpetrator was a white nationalist (unlikely), or looking for attention (more likely), the ball is in our court.

And all Westporters are on that court, whether we want to be there or not. Our response matters.

According to Steve Ginsburg, director of ADL Connecticut — and a Westport resident — “The measure of that school, or that community, is not what happened there, but how they respond to it, and what they did to try to prepare people and prevent it from happening.”

True to that statement, Westport schools have handled the incident swiftly and expertly, with the collaboration of the Westport Police, the ADL, and the support of our elected officials.

Education is always the key. But education should not be limited to school grounds and school hours.

How much do you know about your child’s understanding of the symbol of a swastika? How do they feel when they see one? Afraid? Numb? And are there other forms of intolerance — to race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity — occurring in our kids’ lives? How can we help?

Tonight at 5 on Jesup Green, we come together as a community to learn from those who know how to begin answering these questions.

By this effort — not the hate crime — we will be measured.

(Speakers include Ginsburg; Lauren Francese, K-6 social coordinator, Westport Public Schools; Rev. John Morehouse, Unitarian Church of Westport, and Conor Pfeifer, Triangle Community Center. For more information, click here.)

20 responses to “Facing Up To A Swastika: Jesup Green Event Set For Today

  1. Thank you to everyone organizing this event. Thank you Dan and Darcy for posting this.

  2. well said. well communicated. Thank you. I hope we get a large group.

  3. Yes…Ask your children about the swastika…Maybe they will tell you it’s more than 7 thousand years old and it stood for “good fortune and well-being”…It is still a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism and native American tribes to name a few…Yes ask your children you might learn something

    • Would you consider the context and manner in which the swastika is displayed as relevant to determining whether one could reasonably consider it threatening?

    • Sean fast forward to the WWII. You are the problem.

    • Sean,
      With all due respect to the way this symbol is used in Hinduism and Buddhism, do you really, truly and honestly think that the person would have chosen a bathroom wall to express his wishes for “good fortune and well-being”? Do you actually think it would have to be hidden in the sacred space of the boys bathroom?
      Please, do elaborate…

  4. Eric William Buchroeder SHS '70 BA, MA, JDE

    I HOPE THEY HAVEN’T STOPPED TEACHING CHILDREN ABOUT THE HOLOCAUST IN SCHOOL

  5. Steven Leyba is a native american artist who uses the swastika to depict the history of his native american culture. The city of NY made him take his art down. Threatening?

  6. We have a responsibility as a community to educate our children in acceptance. I have recently had many occasions that reminded me that our job, as parents, is to create a world for our children where everybody is treated with kindness and respect. This week.. finding a swastikas at the school is so deploring but I think every parent should talk to their children about this. Let’s use this as a teaching tool…. in acceptance.

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70 BA, MA, JDE

      Raising your children properly makes such learning events a redundancy. Catch the POS and send him to a reformatory. However, we owe it to the victims to make holocaust denial a hate crime.

  7. Thanks for posting. Wish I could make it, Hearing about these swastikas makes me sick to my stomach. It all goes to what our kids see as acceptable behavior and we all know who normalized this kind of hate. Make sure you and your kids vote in 2020. No excuses accepted. Get those absentee ballots to the colleges and send your kids stamps. Have them do it early so they are sure to find a mailbox. We need to destroy the disgusting hate that has been normalized and get it out of the White House and our lives!

    • Bobbi- while I do not blame you for wanting the guy in office out- just read what Sean Byrnes wrote. Sad and disturbing.

      What we better figure out is how people like Sean realize how his post is hateful and anti-Semitic. This problem is deep and troublesome and what we just experienced is someone on 06880 doing exactly what most want stopped.

      • Darcy asked the question regarding the understanding of the symbol of the swastika and I answered that question. At no time did she mention WWII, the holocaust, or the corruption of the swastika by the Nazis. If I said something wrong, testify as to what is wrong. But if I spoke the truth why attack me? We still have freedom of religion in this country and my intent was to show respect for other people’s religion and heritage. But what it did show that Westport is full of haters now directed at me. Maybe all of Westport carved the symbol on the wall.

        • Sean-you are sooo off base it is not only sad but it shows you do not comprehend the issue. The issue at a staples involved more then what you are now trying to defend. Your comment showed me you lack compassion and understanding. You did this to yourself. Actions have consequences.

    • So, the kid or kids that did this are Trump supporters?
      If you “know” so much, wouldn’t it be best for all if you just posted their names?
      What’s holding you back?

    • Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70 BA, MA, JDE

      Blaming Trump for Anti-Semitic graffiti is kind of like blaming the rooster for the dawn. There are many Anti-Semites whose politics are left of center. Louis Farrakhan, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton to name but a few. Talk to Ilhan Omar, AOC and the rest of The Squad, get their take on Israel’s right to exist and then ask yourself if it’s Trump that should be taken to task as the true and implied solitary causative for this sick state of affairs.

      • Eric-thank you. Hate and bigotry and anti-semetism belongs to no one political party. If Darcy is to be successful she will focus on the issue and not on any one particular leader. If not, then the cause is for not.

        Bart Shuldman

  8. “Ask your children about the swastika…Maybe they will tell you it’s more than 7 thousand years old and it stood for “good fortune and well-being.”

    Not bloody likely. That’s knowledge usually only adults have. Kids are far more likely to know the swastika today as the symbol of Nazi Germany, and more generally, of anti-semitism and hate. THAT is the meaning of the symbol screwballs who scrawl such things on walls are referencing. These are people who have been called by our current White House occupant, “fine people.”

    Pulling arcane historical references out of one’s butt is nothing but an arrant attempt to muddy the waters and dilute the importance and grievousness of the event.

    For shame.

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