I was surprised a couple of years ago when I saw this Boing Boing article about a Swastika shaped building in the US. In the article it was not even questioned that the offending shape must be changed even though it’s only obvious from the air that it is a swastika.
I was surprised because I once went to York University in Toronto. Every day I would pass the sculpture below, which definitely looks like a 3D swastika from the ends. This piece of art was there when I first began attending York in 1986 and still is there today (I only took this photo last week). In all my years at York, I would read the student newspapers and I never once heard of a controversy surrounding this sculpture. Still, looking back now, I think that is what the artist wanted was controversy. The artist didn’t exactly make a swastika. Also it’s not tilted 45 degrees like the true Nazi swastika. However it still easily reminds one of the Nazi swastika. I’m sure some survivor of the holocaust might feel the fear of World War II all over again upon seeing this.
But why does the controversy have to affect Jews the most? Wouldn’t it be more controversial if we got the artist to come back to his sculpture and destroy it in front of his face? Or, York University could say it no longer suits their needs, could we have a refund please. That too would cause controversy.
I also had a look in Scott Library at York to see if I could find the swastika study carrels I remember. I couldn’t find them so maybe they no longer exist. But I didn’t check every nook and cranny of the library (it’s huge). Since I couldn’t take a picture I drew what I remember them looking like below. The swastika is most visible from the top. Again, they were not quite Nazi swastikas because as I recall they were white. Perhaps York got rid of them or retired them or maybe at one point there was some outcry. I have more sympathy for these study carrels because they utilized floor space differently than normal study carrels. An interior decorator will tell you this would create a different flow and movement in the library than other setups.
But here, too, I wouldn’t mind never seeing these study carrels again. If they still exist on the York campus, it would be possible to retire them after a certain amount of use.
So you want to hear more about York University, this hotbed of possible racism or anti-Semitism. York University attracts lots of Jewish students by making Jewish holidays university wide holidays. York is in the city of Toronto, one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world. Go figure.