That symbol now bears a new message
A symbol — once meant to terrorize those who fell outside the realm of beliefs held by one of the most hated men in world history — caused another stir when it popped up on a rural Harnett County road over the weekend. Phones rang at county offices with callers reporting the swastika, scrawled in white paint, at the intersection of Christian Light Road and U.S. Highway 401 Sunday.
The symbol was quickly covered Monday with a new message that urged: “Love not hate.”
According to Miri Nadler, her mother told the family about the appearance of the symbol of Nazi Germany prior to the end of World War II, prompting Nadler to go find the location which ended up being about a half mile from where they live.
“My mother saw it Sunday morning,” Nadler said. “And she told us that she saw it. Her description was it was much closer to the house.”
Nadler said the first thing running through her mind was the obvious question: Was this aimed at her family?
“Because we’re Jewish, we kind of wondered if we were targeted at all,” Nadler said. “Later that afternoon my husband and I went to look for it and saw it much farther away, so it definitely wasn’t personal toward our family.”
What she and her husband discovered was a large, white, thin swastika painted near the intersection. Something she believes was nothing more than a case of vandalism from someone who was likely not fully aware of the implications of the symbol.
“It’s not anything we haven’t seen before,” Nadler said. “We belong to a synagogue that was attacked twice last year. It [the swastika] was just the kind of thing that needed to be covered up.”
After contacting the Harnett County Sheriff’s Office, who in turn contacted the NCDOT, the swastika was covered up with black paint and the words “Love not hate” less than a day after it was reported.
But then Nadler, a California transplant, started to wonder if she and her family had moved to an area where white supremacists are active.
“Personally, I wanted to know if it was something that was kind of tolerated in this area,” Nadler said. “Which is why I put it up in the Ladies of Harnett County Facebook group. It was nice to know that people were genuinely upset that there was a swastika in the middle of the road.”
When asked if she thought there was any foreboding or unpleasant meaning intended by the person or persons who painted it, Nadler said she has her own theory on who did it.
“It’s probably just some stupid teenagers,” she said. “If somebody really wanted to make a bold statement, they would make it in a much more public place, a less isolated place. And would have chosen a specific minority church or a synagogue or something like that if they were really more serious about what they were doing.”
Nadler believes the swastika in the road could be a good lesson in history for everyone, even her own children, who aren’t familiar with what the symbol really means.
“Had my son had been even a year older, I would have taken [him] out to show him and told him what it was,” she said. “It’s particularly rattling to me in the fact that it wasn’t specifically targeted.”
Nadler and her family are more connected to the symbolism behind the swastika and its ties to World War II through her grandfather, who she says served the United States military during the war.
“Her father fought for the Americans and actually liberated Dachau concentration camp,” Nadler said of her mother Laurie Kehler. “So the Holocaust is very much a part of her life. So, it’s something that she’s sensitive to.”
However in this case, her mother didn’t react as many would have believed. Instead, Nadler said she seemed to believe much as she did about the swastika — get rid of it and chalk it up to dumb teenagers.
“I would say her reaction is pretty much the same as mine,” Nadler said. “She wanted to see it taken care of and it was probably some stupid teenagers. If it were more targeted there would be more concern.”
Nadler said she has seen things in the area that would be more unsettling to people than just a swastika. She referred to the rebel flags that are abundantly available and visible throughout not only the county, but the state and region as well.
“There’s some understanding there that it’s history and it’s a little more complicated than people want it to be,” she said. “But when you start seeing a swastika you start thinking maybe there’s some white supremacist activity that is a little more menacing.”
As for what she would say to anyone who is naive enough to think there’s no harm in drawing a swastika in the middle of the road in Harnett County, Nadler has this short, to the point, advice.
“I would say, read a history book, preferably one with pictures,” she said.
-Dunn Daily Record