Cindy Ruzicka: Swastika quiz question is troubling
February 15, 2017
As I was reading Wednesday’s paper, I happened upon the Weekly News Quiz. The question posed to readers was, “How many swastikas were reported at Steamboat Springs High School before winter break?”
Then the reader was provided with four multiple choice options: 3, 0, 1, 4. A multiple choice question about swastikas at our high school was posed just like a question about inches of snowfall might be asked.
But a question about swastikas is not just a question. The answer to this question should be, “the number doesn’t matter.” There were swastikas etched into lockers and cars. There were swastikas drawn on the property of Jewish youth. The number is not what is important.
In my opinion, to ask a seemingly benign question about “how many swastikas” is insincere and troubling. It makes a game out of a hate crime. It belittles the Jewish families, mine included, who had to grapple with this event and try to make sense of it.
I know I am sensitive to antisemitism. I was raised by a Jewish family in a predominantly Jewish community. I was raised to be proud of my Jewish heritage. Yet I was also taught to be keenly aware of antisemitism.
Were it not for the simple hand of fate, I would not be alive. My ancestors were spared during the Holocaust. As a descendant of those who survived, it is my responsibility to speak out.
As I stared at the Weekly News Quiz question, I wondered why it was so disturbing to me. After some thought, I realized it was the numbers. I grew up sitting in synagogue next to people with numbers tattooed to their skin. Those numbers were an attempt by a regime of people to strip them of their humanity, of their identity.
Addressing this issue of swastikas at the high school is far from over. However, polling the community about the number of swastikas does little to enhance the conversation.
Har Mishpacha, Steamboat Spring Jewish Community education director