Swastika building embarrasses US Navy
September 28, 2007
The US Navy will spend thousands to camouflage a California barracks resembling a Nazi swastika after the embarrassing shape was revealed on the internet.
Navy officials said they became aware the barracks looked like a swastika from the air shortly after its 1967 groundbreaking — and had decided not to do anything.
According to The New York Times the resemblance went unnoticed by the public for decades until it was spotted in aerial views on the internet.
The Navy now plans to spend $682,000 on “camouflage” landscaping and rooftop adjustments to hide any aerial view of the San Diego barracks, known as Naval Base Coronado.
“You have to realise back in the 1960s we did not have the internet,” base spokeswoman Angelic Dolan said. “We don’t want to offend anyone, and we don’t want to be associated with the symbol.”
Ms Dolan said when officials first noticed the swastika look there was “no reason to redo the buildings because they were in use”.
But an anti-bigotry group based in San Diego is not impressed.
Regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, Morris Casuto, said: “We told the Navy this was an incredibly inappropriate shape for a structure on a military installation.”
He said his group “never ascribed evil intent to the structure’s design” and praised the Navy for recognising the problem and “doing the right thing”.
The naval spokeswoman said the barracks were in a no-fly zone that was off limits to commercial airlines, so most people would not see the offending building from the air.
Navy to mask Coronado’s swastika-shaped barracks
Ground level isn’t a problem but aerial views of the Coronado site spark outrage.
September 26, 2007
By Tony Perry
CORONADO, Calif., — The U.S. Navy has decided to spend as much as $600,000 for landscaping and architectural modifications to obscure the fact that one its building complexes looks like a swastika from the air.
The four L-shaped buildings, constructed in the late 1960s, are part of the amphibious base at Coronado and serve as barracks for Seabees.
From the ground and from inside nearby buildings, the controversial shape cannot be seen. Nor are there any civilian or military landing patterns that provide such a view to airline passengers.
But once people began looking at satellite images from Google Earth, they started commenting about on blogs and websites about how much the buildings resembled the symbol used by the Nazis.
When contacted by a Missouri-based radio talk-show host last year, Navy officials gave no indication they would make changes.
But early this year, the issue was quietly taken up by Morris Casuto, the Anti-Defamation League’s regional director in San Diego, and U.S. Rep. Susan Davis (D-San Diego).
As a result, in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1, the Navy has budgeted up to $600,000 for changes in walkways, “camouflage” landscaping and rooftop photovoltaic cells.
The goal is to mask the shape. “We don’t want to be associated with something as symbolic and hateful as a swastika,” said Scott Sutherland, deputy public affairs officer for Navy Region Southwest, the command that is responsible for maintaining buildings on local bases.
The collection of L-shaped buildings is at the corner of Tulagi and Bougainville roads, named after World War II battles.
Navy officials say the shape of the buildings, designed by local architect John Mock, was not noted until after the groundbreaking in 1967 — and since it was not visible from the ground, a decision was made not to make any changes.
It is unclear who first noticed the shape on Google Earth. But one of the first and loudest advocates demanding a change was Dave vonKleist, host of a Missouri-based radio-talk show, The Power Hour, and a website, www.thepowerhour.com.
In spring 2006, he began writing military officials, including then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, calling for action.
That August, he received a response from officials in Coronado, who made no promise to take action and said, “The Navy intends to continue the use of the buildings as long as they remain adequate for the needs of the service.”
In December, the now-defunct San Diego Jewish Times wrote about the buildings and the controversy.
Soon Casuto and Davis got involved.
Casuto began an on-and-off dialogue with the chief of staff to Rear Adm. Len Hering, commander of Region Southwest. He said that several members of the Jewish community had complained to him.
“I don’t ascribe any intentionally evil motives to this,” Casuto said, referring to the design. “It just happened. The Navy has been very good about recognizing the problem. The issue is over.”
Davis, who is Jewish, is also pleased with the Navy’s decision.
During a discussion with military officials on other issues, Davis had mentioned the Coronado buildings and suggested that rooftop photovoltaic arrays might help change the overhead look. The base gets 3% of its power from solar energy and has been looking to increase that percentage.
Reached in Versailles, Mo., vonKleist, the talk-show host, said he was ecstatic.
“I’m concerned about symbolism,” he said. “This is not the type of message America needs to be sending to the world.”
what about hindu anti-defamation? the swastika is a sacred symbol to hindus, and by “camouflaging” it, they are doing a disservice to people (like me) who are trying to reclaim the swastika from people who think that it only means nazi.
let me make it very clear: the swastika has been around for thousands of years and it has only been within the last 100 years that it has meant anything other than good luck, peace and love! even the jews used the swastika as a sacred symbol: the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia says “The swastika appears on various articles excavated in Palestine, on ancient synagogues in Galilee and Syria, and on the Jewish catacombs at the Villa Torlonia in Rome.” there are swastikas that decorate the floor of ancient synagogues in tel hum (capernaum). from the Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, again: “In modern times, anti-Semites have given the swastika a baleful significance by adopting it as their symbol; their claim that it is of “Aryan” origin is absurd.” the fact that the US navy is “camouflaging” their swastika-shaped building is an indication that they are buying into the common myth that it means something else.
i understand that it is a common myth, but that doesn’t make it any more right for our government to “disguise” a building that has been in existance since the 1960s, and it is offensive to me that they would disguise it solely because somebody found a satellite photo of it on internet.