In today’s Wall Street Journal “Sightings” column I report on a dangerous new trend. Here’s an excerpt.
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Two months ago, a pair of protesters disrupted a Central Park performance of “Julius Caesar” in which the title character was dressed up to look like President Trump. When Caesar-Trump was stabbed to death—a plot twist devised by Shakespeare, not Oskar Eustis, the show’s director—one of them, an alt-right agitator named Laura Loomer, leaped onto the stage and yelled “This is violence against Donald Trump” while her partner shot video of the protest. Both were hustled out of the amphitheater by security officers as the audience booed, and the performance quickly resumed….
Could it be that the populist anger that put President Trump in the White House will trigger a 21st-century culture war? It’s certainly possible. But to ask that question is to overlook the fact that such a war is already being waged. The difference is that it’s a civil war—one that’s taking place not on the right, but on the left.
Consider what happened to Dana Schutz, a white artist of impeccably liberal views who was represented in this year’s Whitney Biennial by a painting called “Open Casket” (2016). It depicts in a non-realistic, wholly respectful manner the disfigured body of Emmett Till, a black teenager who was lynched in Mississippi in 1955 by southern racists. Protesters tried to have the painting removed from the show, and one, Hannah Black, went so far as to demand that it be “destroyed,” arguing that “it is not acceptable for a white person to transmute black suffering into profit and fun.” The Whitney, quite rightly, refused to cooperate, but the auto-da-fé continued last month when Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art mounted an exhibition of Ms. Schutz’s work, inspiring a group of black artists to demand that the ICA “pull the show.” To be sure, “Open Casket” wasn’t in it—but did that matter? Not in the slightest. Since Ms. Schutz had created a piece of what the protesters called “racist iconography,” the ICA thus had no right to exhibit any of her work. It’s a wonder they didn’t also suggest that she be flogged in Boston Common.
This may sound crazy, but it’s all too typical of the latest trend in political activism, which is to attempt to silence artists who fail to pass the increasingly rigid ideological litmus tests of the “woke” progressive left. And since most artists are politically well to the left of center, it necessarily means that left-wing artists are now trying to silence other left-wing artists for not being far enough to the left….
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Read the whole thing here.