I previously wrote about the insane effort by the San Francisco School Board to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to destroy art for the sake of some imagined political correctness. I am pleased to see that others share my concern. A commentator to my prior entry noted that this incident reminded him of Taliban efforts to destroy religious art in Afghanistan that was not Muslim. He’s right. The analogy is fair.
We live in a time when moral certitude and righteousness justify to many on both sides of the political spectrum the silencing of ideas or art or speech deemed offensive. I don’t care what the book is: The US should oppose book burning and its equivalents.
Our freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights emerged from the brutal behavior of English Catholic monarchs toward Protestants and English Protestant monarchs toward Catholics. Our framers were determined that the US should be a place where moral or religious certainty should not justify the seizing of property or the criminalizing of speech. Even when thousands of Soviet nuclear missiles were aimed at us, we tolerated Communists on street corners and classrooms. That was a strength, not a weakness.
We seem to have lost the self confidence to tolerate difference. Exhibit A is the President who recently crossed a new line in trying to silence members of Congress by inciting a mob to yell “Send her back.” I disagree greatly with the Congresswoman from Minnesota and find some of her comments deeply offensive. But I am more offended by and afraid of a President encouraging his supporters to delegitimize her existence as a loyal American because of where she was born. Loyal Americans can and should disagree with each other about the President’s policies and about how to interpret art and history, about what is acceptably funny and what is too outrageous to say in public.
When we empower officials, elected or appointed, to erase speech and ideas or to intimidate opponents into silence, we go down a scary path known better to other countries.
Read in Politico the article, “Move to erase George Washington mural sparks firestorm among Dems”, The San Francisco Board of Education voted unanimously to paint over all 13 panels of the “Life of Washington”