Cherry Hills Village is a quiet bedroom community at the southern edge of Denver, home to business moguls, athletes and upper-middle-class professionals. National controversies over political correctness or social justice rarely involve communities like Cherry Hills. Until recently.
It likely came as a surprise to most CHV residents that we had a Nazi nexus within our borders. No jackbooted, goose-stepping storm troopers marching through town, but instead a neighborhood of about 50 homes in a subdivision called “Swastika Acres.”
As reported recently by the Denver Post, this was a remnant of an old Denver land company called the Denver swastika Land Company. The Swastika Acres development in CHV dates back to 1908. The knee-jerk reaction to the swastika is the Nazis, or the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, active between 1920 and 1945. Yet the CHV neighborhood was named 12 years before the Nazi party was created. So, no the neighborhood did not represent the Nazi swastika.
Instead, the swastika is an ancient religious symbol first used in South Asia in 3000 B.C., subsequently appearing in Hindu, Christian and Buddhist artwork, and in many cultures, generally symbolizing good luck. American Indians used the swastika as a symbol of the sun and infinity. It wasn’t until Hitler adopted the swastika for his political movement.
The CHV City Council is assisting residents of Swastika Acres, through an ordinance process, in changing the neighborhood name. My question is why only now? Hitler’s reign of terror under the swastika symbol ended almost 75 years ago, and it’s only now that the symbol is offensive?
This issue was likely not on the minds of busy CHV residents before now. Perhaps the effort of changing the neighborhood name was a low priority. Not because homeowners were insensitive or anti-Semitic, but because it was just a name, and a symbol from a long time ago, with little bearing on life in 2019 America. The Associated Press wrote about Swastika Acres in 1997 and despite this national news coverage, there was no move to change the name until now.
This is similar to those Confederate statues in the south, decorating public spaces since the Civil War but now suddenly offensive and triggering. Again, why now and not during the past 100 plus years? Slavery ended with the 13th Amendment in 1865. The Civil Rights Act passed in 1964. Yet these statues are only now offensive?
The University of Notre Dame recently decided to cover 130-year-old murals illustrating the life of Christopher Columbus because they are “demeaning” to Native Americans depicted in the artwork. Columbus arrived in America over 500 years ago. The murals are over 100 years old. But it was only this month that university officials decided they were offensive and mandated they be covered.
Swastika Acres may have been a perfectly acceptable neighborhood name at one time, but not now. It makes perfect sense to change the name if the neighborhood residents so desire. One could say the same for Confederate statues or Columbus murals if that’s the will of the people.
What I find interesting is that these things, despite being around for decades are now suddenly unacceptable. It reminds me of Capt. Renault in Casablanca saying, “I’m shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here!”
More likely we have become a hyper-sensitized culture where people are triggered and offended by virtually anything. The Trump MAGA hat is now a KKK hood and the ‘OK’ hand gesture now signals white supremacy.
Yet real causes for outrage are given a pass, from a $21 trillion national debt to endless foreign wars, to weaponized federal agencies used for political purposes.
Go ahead and change the neighborhood name or remove the statues but realize that the sudden concern, only now, is more virtue signaling than offense since they have been present for decades with nary a peep of dissent.
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