Lawmaker wants all NY students to learn about hate symbols

Bernadette Hogan for NY Post

August 12, 2019

Originally published in New York Post on August 12, 2019.

A Long Island politician will unveil legislation tomorrow that would require all New York state school children to be “educated regarding the meaning of swastikas and nooses as symbols of hatred and intolerance.”

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Nassau), would mandate that sixth- through 12th-grade students in both private and public schools learn about “the meaning of the swastika as the emblem of Nazi Germany, as well as the noose as a symbol of racism and intimidation. The Board of Regents shall determine how to incorporate such components into existing curricula, and the commissioner shall promulgate any regulations needed to carry out such determination of the regents.”

Kaminsky cited a recent uptick in hate crimes as particularly disturbing, highlighting an incident last week at Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park in Oyster Bay where seven swastikas were found scrawled on a pavilion.

“Just going after those who are perpetuating those acts isn’t enough,” he told The Post, explaining that his office is working with the Nassau County District Attorney’s office.

“There’s also an element of sometimes having younger people being the perpetrators and not being educated regarding the darkness and hatred behind symbols like the swastika and the noose. There could be more emphasis in schools focusing on those symbols.

“This is not rocket science, we just need to make a connection between historical events and the racism. They need to know it’s not a game, it’s not a joke or meant to show some type of defiance. Those symbols are meant to intimidate,” he added.

The bill, which will be taken up when the Legislature is back in session in January, would take effect on the Sept. 1 after it is signed into law.