Today’s George Floyd Freakout Disgrace: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 The triggering event:

The museum’s powerful chairman of European paintings, Keith Christiansen, who has worked at the Met for 53 years, posted this image on Instagram. It depicts .

Christiansen also wrote,

“Alexandre Lenoir battling the revolutionary zealots bent on destroying the royal tombs in Saint Denis. How many great works of art have been lost to the desire to rid ourselves of a past of which we don’t approve. And how grateful we are to people like Lenoir, who realized that their value — both artistic and historical — extended beyond a defining moment of social and political upheaval and change.”

The statement was entirely appropriate and true.

But as we know, Facts Don’t Matter.

The response:

The post was quickly attacked  in a tweet by the advocacy group of arts workers, Art + Museum Transparency: “Dear @metmuseum, one of your most powerful curators suggested that it’s a shame we’re trying to ‘rid ourselves of a past of which we don’t approve’ by removing monuments — and, worse, making a dog whistle of an equation of #BLM activists with ‘revolutionary zealots.’ This is not OK.”

Responses to the tweet were similarly critical.

The reality:

  • Removing monuments is cultural suicide, and paves the road to historical ignorance.
  • BLM activists are “revolutionary zealots,” and denying it, or trying to punish those with the honesty and integrity to say so, won’t alter that fact.

Here is how Hawk Newsome, the president of Greater New York Black Lives Matter, described the movement in an interview with Martha MacCallum on Fox News, as reported by the NY Post:

“If this country doesn’t give us what we want, then we will burn down this system and replace it. All right? And I could be speaking figuratively. I could be speaking literally. It’s a matter of interpretation… Let’s be very real…. What is this country rewarding? What behavior is it listening to? Obviously not marching. But when people get aggressive and they escalate their protests, cops get fired, Republican politicians talking about police reform… Wow, it’s interesting that you would [ask what Black Lives Matter hoped to achieve through violence] because this country is built upon violence. What was the American Revolution? What’s our diplomacy across the globe? We go in and we blow up countries and we replace their leaders with leaders who we like. So for any American to accuse us of being violent is extremely hypocritical….. I think you should be applauding me, seeing how you guys are huge supporters of the Second Amendment….. But it seems to be the hypocrisy of America that when black people start talking about arming themselves and defending themselves, [that] talk is ‘violent.’ But when white people grab assault rifles and go to our nation’s, their state capitals, it’s all good… I just want black liberation, and black sovereignty. By any means necessary.”

Funny, that sure sounds like revolutionary zealotry to me.

The institutional capitulation and abandonment of principle:

Max Hollein, the Met’s director, apologized directly to the European paintings department in an email, calling the Instagram post “not only not appropriate and misguided in its judgment but simply wrong.”

How was the statement “wrong” in any way?

 Hollein later said in a statement to The Times:

“There is no doubt that the Met and its development is also connected with a logic of what is defined as white supremacy. Our ongoing efforts to not only diversify our collection but also our programs, narratives, contexts and staff will be further accelerated and will benefit in urgency and impact from this time.”

The retreat and grovel:

Following the script, Christiansen dutifully took down his post and deleted his Instagram account.  He then sent this message to the entire staff via email:

“I will make no excuses except to say that I had in mind one thing and lacked the awareness to self-reflect on how my post could go in a very different direction, on a very important day … and would cause further hurt to those experiencing so much pain right now,. I want to be clear on my view that monuments of those who promoted racist ideologies and systems should never be glorified or in a location where they can cause further harm.”

How pathetic.

___________________________

Facts: New York Times

 

20 thoughts on “Today’s George Floyd Freakout Disgrace: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

  1. Pathetic, indeed.

    Are there any people left with the courage of their convictions? How many more rational tweets and comments will be apologized for by their author when a perfectly reasonable expression is found wanting in the eyes of the “woke.”

    This has to end.

        • Maybe whatever contract he’s working under has a clause that if he causes damage to the museum’s interest he forfeits his pension? Or maybe the movement let it be known that if he didn’t retract he or his family would be targeted? He probably has little to lose, but I’m sure he doesn’t want his son murdered or his granddaughter kidnapped.

          • Who knows, Steve-O. Honestly, the Left has no allegiance to contracts, so my supposition is that they would cancel his pension no matter what it says, and dare him to take it to court. Given the jurisdiction, I wouldn’t be surprised if he lost a court case even if contract law were squarely on his side.

            This new “woke” world seems to favor considering “wrongthink” so evil that normal laws can be effectively ignored in the service of “good.” We have seen this in almost every big city, and in spades in NYC.

          • Especially in a place like New York, where “polite” society is such a fundamental part of the upper crust.

  2. If he’s been working there for 53 years, he’s obviously of retirement age.

    If he had any spine, he would have said something along the idea of the following:

    “While I recognize there are a lot of raw nerves out there right now, I stand by my statement. And not just me: French President Emmanuel Macron recently said almost exactly the same thing. We destroy art – even uncomfortable art – at our own peril; if we destroy art with important history attached, we are doubly so, because we risk losing our history.

    “I will not apologize for what I wrote. It was heartfelt, and it’s a message people need to hear – however angry they may currently be. As for the Met: I have been here for more than half a century. It’s mission was always to show the world as seen through the eyes of some of its finest artists. Some of that art is unpleasant, but that doesn’t diminish its value.

    “The Met’s groveling in the face of the mob is an embarrassment to its patrons and visitors, and to the many talented people who have, over the generations, enjoyed the unique opportunity to work with one of the finest collections in the world. It’s an embarrassment to the idea of art itself. After 53 years, I don’t know these people any more. It saddens me, but I can’t see continuing to work among people so lacking in wisdom, foresight or courage. I therefore resign, effective immediately.”

    That would have been nice, wouldn’t it?

  3. This is true Bizarro-world logic. I was in Paris 2 years ago, and, having made the requisite pilgrimage to the tomb of Napoleon and the other heroes who lie with him (is it still OK to designate possibly the greatest military genius of them all and the marshals who saved France in WW1 as heroes?), I decided I would seek out the tombs of the French royals. Well, the tombs are still there at St. Denis, but most of them are empty. The French revolutionaries, in their wisdom, decided to remove the bodies, dump them in a trench, and pour lime over them to destroy them. Same with the remains of the seven Plantagenets buried in France.

    Charles Martel, St. Louis IX(although there are still some relics of him in other churches), Philip Augustus, Louis XIV the Sun King, and the legendary Richard the Lionheart, all gone. Their physical presence is completely destroyed, and for what? Thankfully Cromwell didn’t dare touch the English monarchs (or maybe he just didn’t get to them, tyranny and abuse of the Irish can keep a guy busy), but Henry VIII destroyed the jeweled shrines of St. Thomas Becket, St. Swithun, and other prior church luminaries. Their physical link to the past is lost, and we’re all the poorer for it.

    Of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, only one – the Pyramids of Egypt, still stands. Three more (the Lighthouse at Alexandria, the Colossus of Rhodes, and the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus)were destroyed by earthquakes, so not much can be done about that, and archaeology is starting to point to the Hanging Gardens of Babylon as being only a legend, but two more, the Temple of Artemis and the statue of Zeus at Olympia, were actively destroyed, possibly as pagan artifacts. Shortly before 9/11 the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamyan, over the world’s strenuous objection, and as recently as 2014 we were hearing much lamentation over the destruction of various ancient sites in Iran by ISIS. Those are things the world will never get back. Objectively, destruction of art and history is not a good thing.

    During the time of Stalin artists were limited in what they could produce, and encouraged only to produce what supported the de facto religion of the state. Krushchev started to allow a bit more freedom, but that mostly led artists to go more in the direction of abstraction. Although there’s only so many ways you can depict Marx, Lenin, et al, few dared challenge that directly. Strangely, Stalin’s statues were mostly junked or moved to less prominent locations after his death

    However, now not only is destruction and restriction a good thing, it’s apparently so good a thing that no one is allowed to go off-script, on pain of cancellation. Last year Justice Alito wrote in the 7-2 Bladensburg Cross decision that the standard of the offended observer is unworkable, and a government that roamed the landscape looking to purge religious elements from public art would rightly be seen as hostile to religion, which the First Amendment prohibits. Apparently it’s ok for a movement to roam the nation, tearing down anything and everything it doesn’t like. I think there’s been a change in thinking on the left, and something the Corporation Counsel of the City of Newark just wrote upon the passing of an ordinance that outlaws any group designated a hate group in the City and requires employees to turn in other employees who utter hate speech on pain of termination for remaining silent that seems to capture the new attitude, “You can’t enjoy free speech, when you can’t breathe, and our first human right is to be able to live. Laws change as any society progresses. Slavery was outlawed. Women now have the right to vote. It’s time we reconsider hate speech as a right and instead look at the conditions it promulgates.”

    I’d say get ready for a lot of limitations and destruction, since supposedly Wall Street is now bracing for a Biden win.

    • I was checking. Do you know the last time Presidential polls in June were headlines in the Times? Never. I don’t think Trump’s worried at all; I wouldn’t be.

      I wondered who was going to take Lucky’s role in 2016, swearing that Hillary was unbeatable. I didn’t think it would be you.

        • Of course they are, Steve. They’re basically reporting that all the people who voted for Hillary last time are REALLY not going to vote for Trump this time. Really! They’re, you know, pissed.

          • There are 16 million new voters since the last election. Something like 10 million old voters have died.

            While it’s not a hard, fast rule that the young vote left and the old vote right, it does skew that way. While it is generally true that young left wingers talk a loud game and then don’t vote…extrapolate from the 16 million new voting age people and bump up a few generations to when those young do begin to actively vote. How many of them are still left leaning versus how many of them have matured?

      • The Democrats are planning on not accepting the results of democracy as they have long accused Republicans of doing. Their propaganda arm is busily sowing the seeds of an “inevitable Democrat victory” narrative so that in the event Trump wins (and I think it’s doubtful), they can scream about it being a rigged election (all while their busy in the background doing everything they can to rig the election—what are they afraid of?).

        Their militant arm has been busy destroying communities to normalize the kind of mob violence they plan on encouraging in the event of a Republican win in November.

        I don’t want there to be a violent backlash against them, but if it happens, I’m not sure my sympathy will be greater than my “told you so”.

        But remember – in all things – violent chaos, perpetuated by *either side* of this divide only serves to strengthen the position of the side that wants more centralization of authority and more power vested in that authority. The Democrats win regardless.

  4. Funny about timing. I just finished composing s letter cancelling our museum membership and resigning from any future volunteer activities because the museum is promoting a concert that gives tribute to BLM. Our reasons are explained. We will not support any organization that directly or indirectly support Marxists who seek to destabilize communities for political gain.

    There must be a cost for pandering.

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