Is the NYT Crossword a Swastika?

Is the New York Times crossword shaped like a swastika? Some people have taken to Twitter saying that the popular crossword puzzle published on Sunday resembles a Nazi swastika

Images of the crossword were shared on Twitter. Sunday was also the eve of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah. 

Among those criticizing the puzzle is Donald Trump Jr., who said “Imagine what they would do to someone who did this and was not ideologically aligned with them? I’ll give them the same benefit of the doubt they would give those people… EXACTLY ZERO.” 

The New York Times has responded to the claims. 

Despite the online speculation, Jordan Cohen, executive director of communications at the Times, said in a statement that the only intentional aspect of the crossword’s appearance was its symmetry.

“This is a common crossword design: Many open grids in crosswords have a similar spiral pattern because of the rules around rotational symmetry and black squares,” Cohen said in the statement.

The puzzle, titled “Some Theme’s Missing,” was created by Ryan McCarty, a Washington, D.C.-based consulting manager who has previously created 22 other puzzles for the paper.

McCarty said in the Times that he was “thrilled” to have his first Sunday crossword in the publication. “This grid features one of my favorite open middles that I’ve made as it pulls from a variety of subject areas. I had originally tried to make it work in a 15×15 grid but then decided to expand the grid out to a Sunday-size puzzle with a fun whirlpool shape. Hope you enjoy!”

“He started this grid in the middle and worked his way out, stirring in a heap of fresh, lively vocabulary, including 20 debut entries,” a New York Times article said.

One Twitter user this week said that this has happened previously. Jewish Journal columnist Blake Flayton said that “this has happened before.” 

He quote-tweeted an October 2017 post from the verified New York Times Games account that read: “Yes, hi. It’s NOT a swastika. Honest to God. No one sits down to make a crossword puzzle and says, ‘Hey! You know what would look cool?'”

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