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Hate symbol or Buddhist emblem? Hidden Villa cancels summer camps for 1,000 kids after staffers resign over swastika tiles

Original post made on Jun 13, 2022

Hidden Villa canceled all of its summer camp sessions due to the “abrupt departure” of camp staff members upset over the nonprofit's handling of complaints about decorative tiles with Buddhist swastikas on the historic Duveneck House.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, June 13, 2022, 2:52 PM

Comments (20)

Posted by ivg
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2022 at 5:14 pm

ivg is a registered user.

I'm a Jew, I know the difference between the traditional Buddhist swastika and the Nazi version, and I don't think the tiles needed to be removed. But, as usual, the cover-up is the problem. Thanks to Mr. James for his efforts!


Posted by L
a resident of another community
on Jun 14, 2022 at 2:25 am

L is a registered user.

I made the same request about the tiles years ago. This isn’t about race, it’s about numbers. A large group forced them to make a change. Their goal is to preserve the Duveneck’s history, so I believe they didn’t want to remove a part of it until forced to. HV administration has had plenty of flaws, but racism ain’t one of them.


Posted by Bernie Brightman
a resident of Whisman Station
on Jun 14, 2022 at 8:55 am

Bernie Brightman is a registered user.

What a Much Ado about Nothing.

Well, I'm glad that kids won't be giving each other COVID in a camp that shouldn't have been happening anyway.


Posted by Parks
a resident of Castro City
on Jun 14, 2022 at 11:50 am

Parks is a registered user.

Hidden Villa says the tiles were in place in the 1910's and it wasn't a Nazi symbol then so we get a free pass. But they/the family had what, 90 years after it did become a symbol of hate to do something about it? And didn't?

Oh well it's also a Buddhist symbol so it's OK. Suppose it was a cross, or a crescent and star and someone objected to having a religious symbol in an inclusive space? They would have removed it, as should have been done long ago.

Too little, too late.


Posted by SalsaMusic
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 14, 2022 at 2:17 pm

SalsaMusic is a registered user.

banning all use of the swastika would be akin to banning the Christian cross because the Ku Klux Klan used burning crosses to terrorize African Americans.


Posted by MV Resident
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 14, 2022 at 2:40 pm

MV Resident is a registered user.

Cancel culture : People with very little understanding and alot of hate.
The Nazi book burners in the 1930s were the cancel culture of their time whereas now we have the so called enlightened and tolerant groups of people. Attacking a religion because a symbol borrowed and modified by the Nazi equates to the same.


Posted by Ray
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 14, 2022 at 2:48 pm

Ray is a registered user.

Only in California! Tiles, produced in 1910, placed on the walls of the Duveneck house built in 1929, have to be removed, because people with no understanding of history think it will disturb children..mightn’t it serve as a point of education? Even a cursory reading of history tells the story of the swastika dating back to the 5th c. BCE..I have traveled to many parts of the world in my career and private life, and the swastika is to be found in all sorts of places..India, Israel, Africa, etc....ah, but not in politically correct Los Altos Hills! And, as a result, 1000 kids have no camp this summer. R.V.Arnaudo, Monta Loma


Posted by Celia
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 14, 2022 at 3:48 pm

Celia is a registered user.

This issue was handled very badly from the beginning and should have been settled with a discussion of where the symbol came from to start with and how this tile differs substantially from the Nazi swastika. I am Jewish and abhor the Nazis and their historic genocide, but the Nazi's adoption of a symbol that is vaguely similar to the Buddhist symbol, (which in fact stands for good fortune and is used worldwide), doesn't turn the Buddhist symbol into a representation of hate or discrimination. The orientation of the crossed bars and even moreover, their connection to the circle, makes it clear that this is not the Nazi symbol. This issue should never have gotten as far as it did, and removing the tiles gives the premise for this disruption credibility it should not have had.


Posted by harvardmom
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jun 14, 2022 at 3:59 pm

harvardmom is a registered user.

A lot of things need to be updated in today's culture, but couldn't the offending tiles have been temporarily covered up with a sign? Even one made of paper and handwritten could have helped, such as "Welcome" or "No Food Allowed," or something similar. A little research could have led to some awareness instead of upending the summer plans of 1,000 campers and their families. Is anyone thinking about the kids?? Can't Hidden Villa pull another group of camp staff together? Let's show some leadership, leaders. And let's use our options!


Posted by James Thurber
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 14, 2022 at 4:08 pm

James Thurber is a registered user.

My niece was married in Burbank a few years ago in a building absolutely plastered with swastikas. Pre-Nazi? Absolutely.

And it was a Jewish wedding.

Come on folks, get your collective "stuff" together. If they aren't Nazi symbols then quit fussing.


Posted by mdhoffm2
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 14, 2022 at 4:28 pm

mdhoffm2 is a registered user.

Regardless of the history of the symbol or the tiles, what is unquestionable is that the Board horribly mismanaged this situation. Their delay in taking action provoked the resignation of staff, leading 1,000 kids losing access to the camp. This will cost Hidden Villa millions of dollars in camp revenue and donations as the organization's reputation is harmed.

The board's job is to consider the risks and benefits to the organization and in this case they made a very bad decision about the relative upside and downside risk of keeping the symbols up.


Posted by Flava Dave
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 14, 2022 at 5:17 pm

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"Suppose it was a cross, or a crescent and star and someone objected to having a religious symbol in an inclusive space? They would have removed it, as should have been done long ago."

Not according to SCOTUS. Just ask Boston


Posted by Flava Dave
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 14, 2022 at 5:31 pm

Flava Dave is a registered user.

The people who complained... I wonder if they also think the Procter and Gamble symbol is satanic.


Posted by BDBD
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 15, 2022 at 11:07 am

BDBD is a registered user.

Too bad they're seriously mismanaged, because the farm and property are beautiful community assets. I'm not sad to see the camps implode given our family's experience there years ago.


Posted by Steven Nelson
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Jun 15, 2022 at 11:35 am

Steven Nelson is a registered user.

@ mdhoffm2. is exactly right. For a non-profit corporation, the Board majority sets the policy. It is clear that they did not take due diligence in considering the fiscal implications on Leaving the Symbols Exposed.

They could have been covered up / with other Buddhist symbols covering them / (professional metal sign and screws).

Guess what! We live in an area that is trying to understand 'the symbolism' of how we surround ourselves and OUR CHILDREN. So "Huff School" gets renamed / not for another clearly racist community pioneer / but for a recent well respected 'ethnic' community member! (yeah MVWSD Board).

The Board of Hidden Villa now obviously did a poor job! An they were clearly warned (in writing) by a formerly loyal employee of 'this problem'. The shame is on the Board majority at Hidden Villa.


Posted by PeaceLove
a resident of Shoreline West
on Jun 15, 2022 at 5:09 pm

PeaceLove is a registered user.

As a longtime fan of the movement to rehabilitate the swastika (which has *thousands* of years of sacred use across almost every society on earth) I would be very sad if Hidden Villa participates in the erasure of history. There are literally swastikas on the floor of an ancient Jewish temple in Jerusalem, in Navajo blankets, on the jerseys of the Swastika, Canada hockey team from the 1920s, and almost everywhere else on earth. Swastikas have been a symbol of good fortune and a common decorative motif throughout our history. Let's not empower a psychopathic German death cult to take our swastikas away from us.


Posted by Yonatan
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jun 15, 2022 at 6:03 pm

Yonatan is a registered user.

Good lord there are a lot of weirdos commenting here.
While that particular symbol isn't the one of the genocidal madmen, it certainly looks like one.
If you have to walk by something which you need to look clearly to see that it is not a symbol of hate, it seems like a not fun place to work and having people tell you that you need to look clearly and you shouldn't feel so bad about being visually assaulted by it also doesn't seem like fun.
As a Jew, I find it all particularly offensive that so many people here and at hidden villa telling people to settle down and make sure to look at it to make sure it is not a hate symbol.
It is a swastika in a public place. it needs to be taken down. If it was in a Buddhist temple, fine. If it is in your house, fine. You can tell your guests that you are not actually a Nazi, you just, nearly a century after the symbol first became one of hate, you still like it.


Posted by LongResident
a resident of another community
on Jun 16, 2022 at 12:25 am

LongResident is a registered user.

The issue seems to be that this 1928 structure had a decorative element, quite small, which came from the Hindu swastika, a known and ancient part of the religion. Actually it is the mirror image form, not technically the Hindu swastika but its counterpart/reverse.

It seems to me that those who are picking on this are culturally insensitive.

This symbol built into a structure, is not what is meant by Structural racism.

These people are ignorant of the world.


Posted by Jon B
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Jun 16, 2022 at 2:49 pm

Jon B is a registered user.

Let’s face it, Mr James and the assistant camp director timed their resignation to inflict maximum pain on HV either because they did not feel heard and were tired of it. I get that. Given the low pay (certainly not a living wage anywhere in this County) and resulting short staffing at HV it’s no wonder tempers were short and flared up right before camp started. It’s too bad that Mr James and his assistant could not have given at least two weeks notice so that camp could have been saved. Their decision to quit less than a week before start of camp is unprofessional, selfish and even cruel when you think of all the kids who have so looked forward to camp after two years of Covid and the staff who no longer have summer jobs and will need to scramble to find new ones.


Posted by MyOpinion
a resident of Stierlin Estates
on Jun 21, 2022 at 1:32 am

MyOpinion is a registered user.

This SHOULD have been an opportunity to educate kids about the history of the symbol. If not for Heinrich Schliemann we would not be having this discussion. Web Link


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