Tuesday, 07 May 2019

School May Remove George Washington Mural That “Traumatizes Students”

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No matter the storied American figure, symbol, or tradition, you can bet the culture renders will find a feeling out there to justify its destruction. And so it is at a Northern California school that may remove an 83-year-old George Washington mural that’s supposedly “offensive and demeaning” and “traumatizes students and community members.”

Of course, the mural just might have some relationship to the institution’s name — George Washington High School — which, we can surmise, will one day also be on the chopping block.

The “Life of Washington” mural dates from 1936, when the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) campus opened. At issue are two of the work’s 13 panels, which portray, respectively, “Washington gesturing toward a group of explorers who are walking by the body of a presumably deceased Native American depicted in the color gray” and “Washington next to several slaves performing various types of manual labor,” relates the College Fix.

The kicker is that the mural’s creator, Victor Arnautoff, was not only a well-known muralist of his time but also “was a protégé of [occultist and communist painter] Diego Rivera and a communist [himself],” reports historian Fergus M. Bordewich in the Wall Street Journal.

Arnautoff “included those images not to glorify Washington, but rather to provoke a nuanced evaluation of his legacy,” Bordewich continues. “The scene with the dead Native American, for instance, calls attention to the price of ‘manifest destiny.’ Arnautoff’s murals also portray the slaves with humanity and the several live Indians as vigorous and manly.”

In other words, as with the inscription at the Statue of Liberty’s base, penned by socialist poet Emma Lazarus, there are good reasons to look askance at the two mural panels (we don’t need moral guidance from Russian-born communists). But today’s culture destroyers know little of the work’s history or of ours and want them gone for all the wrong reasons.

As to who they are, the Fix reports that, according to Laura Dudnick, spokeswoman for the district, the recommendation to mothball the mural was made by “a ‘Reflection and Action Working Group’ that was comprised of members of the local Native American community, students, school representatives, district representatives, local artists and historians."

Translation: The decision was made by a small, non-representative, pseudo-intellectual group of radicals more communist in spirit than Arnautoff himself, the Soviet assassin to his Leon Trotsky.

The group’s recommendation statement attests to this, as the Richmond District Blog related:

We come to these recommendations due to the continued historical and current trauma of Native Americans and African Americans with these depictions in the mural that glorifies slavery, genocide, colonization, manifest destiny, white supremacy, oppression, etc. This mural doesn’t represent SFUSD values of social justice, diversity, united, student-centered. It’s not student-centered if it’s focused on the legacy of artists, rather than the experience of the students. If we consider the SFUSD equity definition, the “low” mural glorifies oppression instead of eliminating it. It also perpetuates bias through stereotypes rather than ending bias. It has nothing to do with equity or inclusion at all. The impact of this mural is greater than its intent ever was. It’s not a counter-narrative if [the mural] traumatizes students and community members.

Now the mural’s fate will be up to district officials (who can now eliminate it with imprimatur of the working group: “Hey, don’t blame us! The ‘experts’ recommended it!” Cowards).

For historian Bordewich’s part, however, he complained in a phone interview with the Fix about how “there ‘is a deeply wrongheaded habit to project today’s norms, values, ideals backwards in time to find our ancestors inevitably falling short,’” as the site relates it.

“‘It betrays a very troubling intolerance of art and the ambiguity of art and the aspirations of art,’ he said.”

It actually betrays far more than that. If a mural “traumatizes” you, your problem isn’t the mural. It’s something far deeper.

Of course, the work doesn’t actually traumatize them — they just don’t happen to like it. But this is the Offensiveness Ploy. Saying they hate the mural makes them seem intolerant, so instead they reverse the onus by claiming the problem is something inherent in the work itself, its “offensiveness.”

Yet “offense cannot be given, only taken,” as the saying goes. Moreover, there’s something seldom said about this feelings-driven, policy-based-on-passions phenomenon.

Your feelings don’t mean diddly-squat, snowflakes.

Oh, our feelings matter when undergoing psychoanalysis (for whatever that’s worth) or being counseled by a spiritual advisor. But letting them drive policy is madness.

There are seven billion-plus people on Earth, snowflakes, with seven billion-plus sets of feelings, and most everyone is offended by something and most everything offends someone. But since virtually everything cannot be banned, all we can do is discriminate among feelings, deciding whose to kowtow to.

For example, traditionalists might find the Washington mural’s removal “traumatic” and “offensive,” but it’s unlikely a workers-of-the-world-unite “working group” will give a darn.

So our offensiveness obsession doesn’t actually eliminate the offensiveness or the offended; its engineers simply become the ones to decide who will be offended. This is largely, of course, because the goal isn’t eliminating “offensiveness,” but eliminating tradition. The Offensiveness Ploy is a just convenient vehicle through which to do this.

In reality, history should be compiled and traditions embraced based not on the subjective and spasmodic — feelings — but on the objective and unalterable: Truth. We celebrate George Washington because he’s the Father of the Nation; because our republic wouldn’t exist without him; and because these exploits and more inspired even his rival, King George III, to call him “the greatest character of the age.”

But this gets at the issue of our age. There are only two ways of making decisions: by principle and by preference. Awash in moral relativism, too many of us don’t believe in the objective and thus can’t truly believe in principle. So all we have is preference — emotion-determined. And whose feelings will prevail? Those of the puppeteers in power.

As for the credulous conservatives who thought compromise would soothe the savage breast, it should now be obvious that a dark cultural revolution is in full swing. It was never going to end with the tearing down of Confederate statues or the elimination of Columbus Day, as the attack on Washington, the Father of the Nation, evidences. So man up and stand up — or watch your civilization be torn down.

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