Saturday, June 25, 2005

Lets Just Call It The Museums of Propaganda

In an amazing show of aggression to the arts (second only to Rudy Guiliani's attack on the Brooklyn Museum of Art's Sensation exhibit), George Pataki openly threatened the Drawing Center's placement in the Ground Zero cultural center "demanding "an absolute guarantee" that they would not mount exhibitions that could offend 9/11 families and pilgrims"

At the root of his ire is an exhibit that "appears to make light of President Bush's description of Iraq, Iran and North Korea as the Axis of Evil" stemming from pressure from so-called victim's families. I say so-called, because these are the people who lost a family member. But in fact those of us who didn't die are also victims by the trauma of that day the loss of our friends.

And what offends us? War mongering, torture, religious war, be it jihad or crusade. How about lying to a nation to take their children into a war they won't come home to? How about frittering time and resources on tax cuts we can't afford and a homeland security department that doesn't make us more secure.

What makes art, unfettered by the constraints of propoganda, healing is that it doesn't really yield an answer to difficult questions. It can acknowledge the hurdles and contradictions by playing the fool's role. It doesn't promise to soothe us, only to prompt a number of thoughts that might bring us closer to coping.

And what exactly is the role of the Freedom Center? It would be nice to believe that the United States has always taken the side of freedom of justice, but it hasn't. The list of miscues is easy: the atom bomb, McCarthyism, The "Patriot" Act, Abu Ghraib. Blindly following the Bush Cheney lead does not necessarily lead to, (and often has distracted from) honoring those victims of 9/11... alive or dead. It's important to recognize those lapses to help us take the side of freedom and justice in the future.


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