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T.K. Nakagaki featured in Quartz article, "Can the swastika ever reclaim its original meaning?"

Michael Palmer - Thursday, December 26, 2019

In November of this year Reverend Dr. T.K. Nakagaki joined Professor at the School of Visual Arts and author of The Swastika and Symbols of Hate for a joint lecture discussing this ancient and controversial symbol. 

Anne Quito reports on the lecture on her Christmas Eve article for Quartz.

"A Jewish historian and a Buddhist priest walk into a room with a swastika. The historian sees evil. The priest sees a sign of good luck. Can the two readings, representing the western and eastern lenses on the ancient symbol, ever be reconciled?

This was the topic of a joint lecture I moderated in November at the School of Visual Arts in New York. On one side was Steven Heller, eminent Jewish design historian, teacher, and author of The Swastika and Symbols of Hate: Extremist Iconography Today. On the other was T.K. Nakagaki, a Japanese Buddhist priest and linguist who wrote the book The Buddhist Swastika and Hitler’s Cross: Rescuing a Symbol of Peace from the Forces of Hate.

For Heller, seeing the swastika triggers thoughts of his great-grandparents, who were killed on the way to Auschwitz. “I feel a sense of loss,” he says. With the resurgent menace of Nazism in today’s white nationalist movements, Heller believes the swastika cannot be redeemed—at least not in the West. “I have written articles about serious attempts at reclamation and rehabilitation,” he writes in his book. “Initially, I was sympathetic. However, as long as the Nazi iteration continues to elicit destructive power, there is no way it will ever be redeemed.”

After coming to the US 25 years ago, Nakagaki chose to abstain from using the symbol, in deference to the Western perspective. It was only around 10 years ago, when he heard someone refer to the swastika as a universal symbol of evil, that he began to actively write a corrective. His goal, he says, is to show there’s an alternative reading of the ancient symbol, which has roots in the Indus Valley around 500 BC."

Read the full article here:

And pick up a copy of T.K. Nakagaki's The Buddhist Swastika and Hitler's Cross here:




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