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Nazis and gangbangers

by Brad A. Greenberg

September 22, 2008 | 7:09 pm

Jeffrey Weiss of the Dallas Morning News asks, “How is a rosary like a swastika?

He attempts to answer his own question:

Both are religious symbols that have been tainted by association with people from outside the original faith. The swastika has been used by many cultures but is particularly common in India, and can be found on lots of Hindu art. Here’s an explanation of the symbolic significance. But who outside India can look at a swastika and not think of the Nazis, who swiped the symbol for their own evil purposes? So what should Hindus do? Drop a symbol that they’ve been using for thousands of years? Wouldn’t that mean the Nazis had “won?”

Now to the rosary, a Catholic string of prayer beads that is used to guide the faithful through a particular series of prayers. But for whatever reason, some violent American gangs have taken the rosary as one of their marks. Some schools have banned students from carrying or wearing them. And so we have this story in today’s DMN about a student in the Seagoville school district who faces potential punishment for wearing her rosary. The story by Dan X. McGraw makes it clear this incident is murky: The student says she doesn’t consider herself to be Catholic currently and a rosary isn’t supposed to be worn as jewelry. But it’s still an interesting conflict between original purpose and what others have turned it into.

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