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Glenn Beck’s Culture War: Left or Right, He’s Right about Government Meddling in the Arts

Glenn Beck seems to be careening wildly around the artworld lately. But the clip that actually has significance (and some validity) is not his wacky rant about Communist iconography lurking in the adornments of Rockefeller Center.

The Beck clip that deserves notice (below, via) addresses the Obama administration’s attempt to rally the art brigades around its social-service agenda. Particularly noteworthy is the audio recording played about six minutes into the clip—the voice of Yosi Sergant, director of communications for the National Endowment for the Arts, saying the following to the members of the arts community who participated in the White House’s United We Serve conference call on Aug. 10:

Bear with us as we learn the language so that we can speak to each other safely. And we can really work together to move the needle to get stuff done.

Whatever your politics—left, right, agnostic—you should have a “did he really say that?” moment when an NEA spokesperson exhorts artists and other members of the art community to “work together to move the needle to get stuff done.” In their zeal to further President Obama‘s service initiative, various government officials, including Kalpen Modi, Associate Director, White House Office of Public Engagement (who hosted last Thursday’s arts-service conference call), overstepped in trying to herd cats—the artistic community. Whatever you think of Beck and Patrick Courrielche (who joined him on the video, below) they’re right (with a small “r”) on this issue.

That said, you won’t catch me responding to any beckoning from Beck (not that he’s asked!). We can only hope he’ll be as forceful in defending artistic freedom if conservative Congressmen ever try to interfere with the NEA’s proper work, which is to support artistic excellence and to help artists and cultural institutions further their OWN agendas, enriching our cultural life.

(Speaking of enrichment, many thanks to CultureGrrl Donor 70 from Chicago who, from the size of his benefaction, must have believed my Chicago Reader hype!)

Below are Beck and Courrielche, followed by two bonus video links:

While we’re enjoying videos…for those of you who have already viewed Beck’s viral Communist iconography diatribe, go here to see Keith Olbermann‘s even more unhinged parody of it, which I caught last night on MSNBC. Where’s Jon Stewart when we really need him?

an ArtsJournal blog