Vandalism involving a large, approximately 7-foot, white spray-painted swastika and strikethrough text ’TRUMP 2020’ was discovered to the right of a doorway on an exterior wall at Seth Paine Elementary School, 50 West Miller Road in Lake Zurich on Monday, December 30, 2019. Lake Zurich police believe the criminal damage to property occurred sometime after 2:00 p.m. Saturday December 29, 2019.
Two smaller swastikas were painted on nearby playground equipment near the school’s east wall, where most of the vandalism was painted. Drawings of male genitalia and the words “poop” were also tagged on the building and/or playground equipment. Lake Zurich Unit School District 95 crews removed the vandalism Monday. Police collected evidence at the school and are seeking any possible video images of the crime.
A Daily Herald article written by Russell Lissau seems to emphasize the general anti-semitic nature of the vandalism, without the political connection. No doubt, swastikas are offensive and anti-semitic in any context, but the presentation of the information by the Daily Herald writer appears to diminish the context that conjoins the swastika with the anti-Trump message. The lead text of the article doesn’t carefully mention the conjoined anti-Trump message — ’TRUMP 2020’ with an ‘X’ crossing out or striking through the text. The mention of the anti-Trump message appears following the two lead paragraphs of the article, and appears below a large ad. A hurried reader may miss the connection.
Daily Herald | Swastika Lake Zurich
“A large, spray-painted swastika was discovered on an exterior wall at Seth Paine Elementary School in Lake Zurich on Monday — the final day of the Jewish holiday Hanukkah.
Two smaller swastikas were painted on nearby playground equipment, too.
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The Nazi symbols appeared with other graffiti — including the phrase ‘Trump 2020’ with an X through it, the phrase ‘Joe Biden 2020’ and some vulgar words and designs, Lake Zurich police said.
The vandalism coincided with a rise in anti-Semitic violence in New York that has gained international attention — including a knife attack at a rabbi’s house Saturday that left several people injured.”
More precisely, the anti-Trump message appeared next to the Swastika — as if it was part of the same ‘sentence’ — not merely ‘with’ the swastika. The Daily Herald did not show the photo of the Swastika, according to Lissau, because it is a hate symbol. Also Cardinal News did not publish the photo, because in this context it is a hate symbol that stirs excessively negative emotions.
The minor criminal damage act with major offensive expression stimulated a variety of speculation among citizens in Lake Zurich and Lake County. Some citizens prioritized the offensive nature of the swastika and refuse to allow consideration of any other political speculation — such that the message could have been a ‘false flag’ message, an ‘anti-Trump’ message, or a pro-Trump message that was edited by anti-Trump activists. Some citizens were extra revulsed by the opinion that the incident could have merely been perpetrated by children being children.
Lake County Board member Jessica Vealitzek, who lives near Seth Paine Elementary School, discovered the vandalism Monday morning. Vealitzek reported the vandalism to police and posted a photo of the exterior school wall showing the graffiti on her Facebook page. Unfortunately adults in Lake County allowed a cheap shot, criminal act of cryptic graffiti to function as ammunition to justify personal attacks and insults toward one another.
Several people commented on Vealitzek’s Facebook post. The comments ranged from revulsion to the hate expressed by the swastika, to blaming Trump for fueling hate and division, to questioning whether the vandal’s message might be ‘anti-Trump’ rather than primarily anti-Semitic.
Another Lake County Board Member, Dick Barr expressed that the vandalism represented an anti-Trump message, saying “It’s an anti Trump message. ‘Trump’ is crossed out. Put there by anti Trumpers, I presume.” But Vealitzek replied, “at this point, who cares about the political stance of the vandals? A swastika was painted.” Velaitzek also speculated that a third-party may have crossed out “Trump 2020” after the original vandal(s).
On a few comment threads, the discussion degraded to a lot of speculation, accusations, insults and name calling by a variety of people.
Barr tries to remain rational saying, “But I prefer not to use something like this (vandalism with a swastika) to tell a story, when interpretation can literally be anything, and there’s a good chance both our interpretations may not be right.” The swastika has proven to be a Rorschach test for citizens in Lake Zurich and Lake County, and evil manifests itself in all forms of confusion.
An American Jewish progressive activist group opposing the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The IfNotNow movement consists of young Jewish Americans who demonstrate against politicians, US Government policies, and Jewish institutions perceived to support the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, primarily through direct action and media appearances.
Students for Justice in Palestine
A pro-Palestinian college student activism organization in the United States, Canada and New Zealand that has been involved in disruptive demonstrations and protests, and has campaigned for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against corporations that engage in business with Israel.
A liberal advocacy group, based in the United States, with stated aim to promote American leadership to end the Arab–Israeli and Israeli–Palestinian conflicts peacefully and diplomatically.
To connect Trump and Trump supporters with antisemitism is probably irrational. The attempt to connect Trump with anti-semitism in Lake Zurich is a method that is nothing new in the world. On December 11, 2019, Editor-in-Chief of Jewish News Syndicate Jonathan S. Tobin wrote that Trump’s signing of an executive order extending protections to Jewish students against anti-Semitic hate on college campuses provided citizens with a “sanity test for Jews.” Tobin questioned why Jews wouldn’t want the president to extend protections from the vicious incitement and discriminatory actions promoted by the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.
“If you are so deranged with hatred of Trump and rabid partisanship that you are even prepared to denounce administration efforts to stop anti-Semitism, then you should immediately seek help.”
Tobin explained that The New York Times and CNN in December 2019 reported that Trump wanted to redefine Jewish identity.
In reporting about his executive order concerning the enforcement of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the left media message was that Trump is “effectively interpreting Judaism as a race or nationality” instead of a religion. The upshot of the slanted report, according to Tobin, was that the president’s motive was to distract the country from his own alleged anti-Semitism and to silence criticism of the State of Israel. The message, along with other media sources, was that it was “inherently anti-Semitic” for Trump to treat Jews as a separate nationality since it somehow fit in with the views of white nationalists to whom he supposedly has been dog-whistling.
Left-wing groups like J Street and the anti-Zionist ‘IfNotNow’ oppose Trump’s executive order. ‘IfNotNow’ activists are apparently worried that the thuggish behavior of their anti-Semitic allies in the ranks of ‘Students for Justice’ in Palestine and on college faculties will now actually be held accountable for their actions, according to Tobin. The recent timing of criticism of Trump’s executive order could even give credence to Dick Barr’s suggestion anti-Trumpers committed the swastika vandalism. After all, thugs do include vandalism as part of their repertoire of civil disorder.
Law enforcement in Lake Zurich and Lake County should be investigating not only whether this criminal act to the Seth Paine Elementary School was an act of general anti-semitism, but whether it was a specific act of anti-Trump politics along with the BDS movement.
To address Vealitzek’s argument, “at this point, who cares about the political stance of the vandals? A swastika was painted” … Law enforcement should care, along with citizens who want to offer leads to law enforcement, because it might help them catch their suspects, whether they are activists or inspired child activists.
Seth Paine Elementary School is named after a businessman from Chicago who arrived in Lake Zurich, and in 1841 opened the first store in Lake Zurich, known as the Union Store.
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A geometrical figure most commonly associated in Western Civilization with the Nazi Party to symbolize German nationalistic pride, antisemitism and terror — and more recently white supremacy. The swastika also represents an ancient religious icon that is a symbol of divinity and spirituality for Indian religions — especially Hinduism, Jainism, and Buddhism.