WASHINGTON, D.C., April 16, 2015 (Indian Panorama): George Washington University is gearing up to permanently ban from campus an important religious symbol, one which is sacred to many Hindus and Buddhists in India and elsewhere, because it looks like something else which may upset the sensibilities of some students. The University has seemingly taken the position that posting anything which could be mistaken for a Nazi swastika – even if it is of a different color and orientation, and/or might be seen as “rotating” in the opposite direction – cannot be displayed on campus, even by students who are Hindus or Buddhists.
This effective banning of a sacred religious symbol, simply because it may look like something else, seems to be unprecedented. What could be more discriminatory than prohibiting Hindus and Buddhists from displaying their sacred Sanskrit svastika while permitting Christian, Jewish, and others to display their symbols, perhaps on a T-shirt?
It’s like banning the 6-pointed Jewish Star of David because some people might mistake it for the pentagram symbol and human sacrifice, or expelling a student for using the word “niggardly” because other students may mistake it for a racist word and get upset, says George Washington University public interest law professor John Banzhaf. Banzhaf, in a legal memo to key campus officials, has suggested that the University and its President may already be liable for defamation and other civil torts.