New York Times Publishes a Swastika-Shaped Crossword Puzzle on First Day of Hanukkah

It’s not the first time this has happened either

New York Times
New York Times (Getty)

New York Times readers were horrified to see that Sunday’s crossword puzzle was in the shape of a swastika, an especially egregious oversight as Sunday was also the first day of Hanukkah.

Meghan McCain was among the many calling out the Times. “On the first night of Hanukkah the anti-Israel New York Times issues a crossword puzzle that looks like a swastika. Can’t make this s— up. We see you @nytimes – we see you,” she tweeted.

The Times, meanwhile, defended the design and insisted the antisemitic pattern was unintentional. “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,” a Times spokesperson told TheWrap on Monday.

Apparently, it’s not the first time this has happened. In 2017, the New York Times Games account responded with this statement after they were accused of a similar offense: “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?’”

Reactions poured in immediately Sunday.

“I want to thank the New York Times for validating my decision to cancel my subscription months ago. To put out a crossword puzzle that glaringly resembles a swastika on the first day of Hanukkah is either extremely irresponsible or intentional,” tweeted @akaDottiedanger.

Twitter user MissesDread commented in response to the Times’ comment on Monday, “Even if we were to believe that it’s ‘a common puzzle design,’ IT SHOULDN’T BE, @nytimes.”

Brian E. Makes Games tweeted, “Just wanted to send a hearty F— YOU to Ryan McCarty and the @nytimes you goddamn nazi-owned, nazi-propagandizing, anti-Semitic pieces of rancid dog s—!!! Its the first day of Hanukkah and you do this?! EAT S—!”

Sunday’s puzzle, which was created by Ryan McCarty and edited by longtime puzzles editor Will Shortz, was titled “Some Theme is Missing.” It ran in the print version and online, as several subscribers shared screenshots. (All NY Times online games, including Wordle, are available only to subscribers.)

Julien Blue pointed out that Shortz has had to apologize for other offensive puzzles in the past and called for the Times to “fire [the] racist crossword editor.”

The Times did not comment on this tweet about Shortz.