A small plane carrying a banner of a swastika, flew above Coney Island beaches over the weekend as part of an annual effort by the International Raelian Movement to resurrect it as a symbol for good instead of its hated representation of Nazi racism and fascism.
Among other beliefs, Nazis espoused racial purity and the desire to create the Aryan superman through eugenics and extermination of other groups, especially the Jews.
The effort by the Raelian group sparked the expected outrage and was viewed by many as more of an example of hate than peace.
"It's a very chilling image, in light of the fact that southern Brooklyn has the largest remaining number of World War II and Holocaust survivors," Councilman Mark Treyger (D-Brooklyn) said. He told the Daily News that he had received several complaints over the aerial display. "There is no place for this in New York City."
According to its website, the Raelian Movement believes that scientists came to Earth and "created all forms of life, including human beings, whom they created in their own image." The extraterrestrials picked a messenger, Rael -- born Claude Vorilhon on Sept. 30, 1946 in France -- to prepare the way for the arrival of the scientists from outer space.
The Raelian Movement every year tries to remind people that before the Nazis, the swastika -- a peace sign and a Star of David -- was an ancient symbol of well-being to Hindus and Buddhists, among others. This year the group expanded its demonstrations to a week from a single day.
"We decided we need an entire week to really get the word out," Raelian Guide Thomas Kaenzig said in a post on the group's website.
"Swastika Rehabilitation Week" began on July 5, and we've already held events in about 20 cities in Africa, Australia, Asia, Europe and South America."
Canada's largest billboard company rejected the group's order for a large sign it wanted to display in that country, Kaenzig said. The group is not anti-Semitic, spokesman Kaenzig told the Wall Street Journal. "We're here to educate people, not offend people."