Visitors to New York City beaches yesterday were pretty horrified when a plane flew by towing a banner with a swastika that noted, in symbols, that "swastika plus peace equals love." It also contained a swastika combined with a Star of David. The banner, which flew through Coney Island and the Rockaways, was the work of a religious group called the Raelians, who paid $2,000 for the ad, the New York Post reports. The cause, apparently, doesn't celebrate Hitler; instead, it was part of "International Swastika Rehabilitation Week."
The group, it seems, wants to end the swastika's association with the Nazis. "By keeping the negative connotation of the swastika and linking it to Hitler, you only give credit to this guy’s monstrosity," says a spokesman. Subscribers to Raelism, according to Brooklyn blog Sheepshead Bites via Time, believe alien scientists created humanity; the spaceship that carried these extraterrestrials also supposedly brought the swastika. "It’s very important to reclaim it and explain to the public that this symbol has a beautiful origin," the rep tells the Post. But a Coney Island councilman calls the sign "absolutely disgusting and an egregious act of hate and intolerance."