This Hate Symbol is Surprisingly on Display in Montana. Or Is It?
If you've visited this business in Helena, you may have noticed what appears to be a highly recognizable symbol of hate outside the front door. Before you freak out, here's an interesting lesson in Montana history.
On the sidewalk in front of the Montana Club in Helena, there are little white swastikas inlaid in red tile, but the symbols predate when Nazi Germany chose the symbol to represent their regime. Here's a brief explanation from a 2018 article in the Great Falls Tribune.
The entry to the Montana Club has swastikas, which raise some eyebrows but far predate Nazi appropriation of the symbol. During World War II, however, the tiles were covered by rugs.
Today, the symbols have been uncovered and still remain. The Montana Club is one of the oldest social clubs in the Northwest and was reserved "for gentlemen only" when it was founded in 1885. In the early 20th century, members wanted to choose a symbol to represent the Montana Club that would be welcoming to all who entered the establishment. That's when the swastika design was chosen. Members chose the design long before it was associated with Nazis and used as a symbol of hate.
The ancient symbols have been used for six thousand years to mean abundance and prosperity. Formed with a Greek cross, the arms of the cross can be bent in either direction. “Swastika” in Sanskrit means well-being or good luck. It appears in ancient Tibetan, Thai, and Turkish artifacts. To Hindus swastikas symbolize the sun’s rotation; Buddhists consider them Buddha’s footprints. Swastikas symbolized friendship to American Indian tribes.
It was not until WWII that Hitler transformed this universal symbol from one of friendship to one of hate. Swastikas at the threshold of the Montana Club demonstrate how time and events can affect perception.
According to Southwest Montana Tourism.
If you know about history, you may not be so quick to cast judgment. In addition, the swastika used by Hitler was facing the opposite direction. Here's a picture for reference.
The learn more about the history of the Montana Club and the symbol, click here.