Most likely, peace, goodwill, and spirituality are not what people think of when they see the Swastika. Time and history often alter symbolic meanings; modern responsibility and civic duty involve recognizing those changes, and ensuring their nefariousness ends in the public domain.  

Last year, the Department of the Interior renamed hundreds of natural landscapes in effort to remove a slur in their names; 41 of those name changes occurred in Wyoming. The word “sq*w,” an offensive term used to describe a Native American woman, was removed from locations to stop the dehumanization and sexism against Indigenous women. 

Other places were renamed or are in the process of, to remove racist and disrespectful associations with their naming.

Yet Swastika Lake’s name is being defended. The small lake near Libby Creek trail in the Snowies was named before WWII, and Commissioner Terri Jones believes it to be a “teaching opportunity,” as stated in The Laramie Reporter. 

The debate has garnered the attention of Robert Kraft, owner of the New England Patriots. Kraft is the founder of The Foundation to Combat Antisemitism. In a letter to Commission Chair Pete Gosar, he urges the committee to change the lake’s name.  

Jones believes “we should not change names to suit sensitive people” and “limiting knowledge and removing history are the calling cards of communism,” as The Laramie Reporter adds. 

Kraft, like Jones, cites the positive origins of the word, but also sensibly notes it is now the most recognizable symbol of hatred and antisemitism in the modern world. Arguing against Jones’s educational opportunity stance, Kraft states, “we believe there are many more efficient ways to educate the public…such as Holocaust education in schools and educational resources, with the help of reputable organizations.”

Citing anti-Semitic violence, “attacks in 2022 increased by 36%, reaching 3697 incidents–a new high since the Anti-Defamation League began recording this information,”  Kraft stresses how the symbol is a means of hatred and white supremacy, and shouldn’t contribute to the “re-traumatization of many Jewish people and members of our communities.” 

Voting for the name change could happen as early as tonight. As the lake sits in Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest, federal officials would have to approve of a change. 

To read Kraft’s full letter, click here.

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