The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Who Will Courageously Defy the National Gallery’s Gay-Bashing Homophobia?

Posted on | December 12, 2010 | 15 Comments

Why, yes, of course, it’s Frank Rich! And that’s exactly how he construes the situation whereby an exhibit at the National Gallery of Art — “a survey of same-sex themes in American portraiture,” as Rich describes it — was subjected to “censorship” because one work was removed from the exhibit.

Anyone offended by a video that showed “a scene of ants crawling on a crucifix” as a metaphor for AIDS — for this is what David Wojnarowicz’s video showed — is obviously an intolerant bigot. And wherever bigotry rears its ugly head, Frank Rich will courageously Speak Truth to Power. Or at least write 1,536 words to power, which we will merely sample here:

“[A] Roman Catholic conflicted by a religion that demonized his sexuality . . . a ruthless disease that had provoked indifference and cruelty rather than compassion . . . even in a time of huge progress in gay civil rights, homophobia remains among the last permissible bigotries in America. . . . It still seems an unwritten rule in establishment Washington that homophobia is at most a misdemeanor. . . . the hate speech of persistent bullies . . . most of the recent and well-publicized suicides by gay teens have occurred in Republican Congressional districts . . . America’s signature cultural institution can be so easily bullied by bigots.”

All of this, you understand, because one video was removed from an exhibit. The controversy was provoked by Penny Starr’s Nov. 29 article at with this headline:

Smithsonian Christmas-Season Exhibit
Features Ant-Covered Jesus,
Naked Brothers Kissing, Genitalia, and
Ellen DeGeneres Grabbing Her Breasts

Say what you will about homophobic bigotry, but editors sure know how to write an attention-getting headline, don’t they?

That article prompted William Donohue of the Catholic League to send suicide-bombers to maim and murder innocent women and children ask Catholics to call the museum and complain.

That’s it, you see? All Donohue did was to issue a press release, which was quoted by the New York Post, and a lot of Catholics called to complain that the National Gallery — which receives 55 percent of its budget in taxpayer funding from Congress — was engaged in a government-sponsored attack on Christianity.

Agree or disagree with Donohue’s religion, say what you will about the gallery curator’s taste in art, this story was in essence a repeat of that timeless journalistic classic, “Your Taxpayer Dollars at Work.” The federal government spends so much money on so many different things that some of it is bound to be deeply offensive to somebody. The Catholics offended by ant-covered Jesus were no different in this regard from air travelers offended by TSA-groped crotches or peaceniks offended by army-invaded Iraq.

In the mixed-up mind of Frank Rich, however, those offended by the Smithsonian exhibit were jumbled together with those who “demonized . . . sexuality,” who exhibited “indifference and cruelty,” and who are thereby complicit in both teen suicide and opposition to civil rights.

So here is Frank Rich, ostentatiously congratulating himself on his heroic opposition to symbolic hysteria, while simultaneously engaged in . . . symbolic hysteria.

One of these days, perhaps in New York City or Washington, D.C., some young Muslim will succeed in doing what yesterday’s Stockholm bomber failed to do, and then maybe Frank Rich will expend 1,536 words warning against religious extremists far more dangerous than American Catholics who complain about art exhibits.

But nowhere in that 1,536-word column will Frank Rich admit that he is a complete fool.

Truth to Power, baby.

(Via Memeorandum.)


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