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Swastika morphing into Jewish star

This 6-by-8-foot banner was displayed in the Student Union of the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. It was put up by a student group calling itself the "Palestinian Human Rights Campaign." It is clearly anti-Semitic, equating the Nazi swastika with the Jewish star. It should have been banned by virtue of the Board of Regents' own hate speech rule, whose directive is "to curb any speech or symbols that would insult or threaten others to cause a violent response." This banner certainly qualifies as hate symbolism.

The university balked at carrying out this directive. But in this case, something was done about it.

Jewish students met with the Chancellor to demand that the banner be removed. The Chancellor responded that the banner was protected free speech. The Jewish students alerted the media, and stories appeared on TV and in the press. They also arranged for a 73-year-old Holocaust survivor to speak at a news conference about what the swastika and the banner meant to him.

Someone unconnected with the university tore the banner down, and a fight broke out. Both Jewish and non-Jewish community groups condemned the university for permitting the display of an anti-Semitic banner. Funding for the Palestinian "Human Rights" Campaign was slashed and eventually stopped.

This was not the last such incident at the University of Wisconsin. Even with a college education, it seems to take a long time to recognize hate speech for what it is.


"Banner Prompts Fight at University." United Press International, May 13, 1992.

Crocker Stephenson, "Swastika Banner Is Torn Down," Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 12, 1992.

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