Culture wars continue

From People for the American Way: (

“Incoming House Speaker John Boehner and Majority Leader
Eric Cantor called yesterday for the closing of an
exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery
that features work with sexual themes and a video about
the AIDS epidemic in Latin American culture that
includes 11 seconds of ants crawling on a Christ
figure. Museum director Martin Sullivan has announced
that the video has been removed from the exhibit
because “people were leaping to a conclusion that we
were intentionally trying to provoke Christians or
spoil the Christmas season.”

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, who has
a long history of far-right extremism, is the main
force behind the move to censor the privately-funded

Michael B. Keegan, President of People For the American
Way, issued the following statement:

“There is absolutely no reason for our government to be
in the business of censoring art, or cave to pressure
from extreme Religious Right organizations just because
it’s Christmas. That Bill Donohue and the Catholic
League are fighting for censorship is unsurprising.
That the GOP leadership is echoing their call is
shameful. That the Smithsonian has given into their
transparent political bullying is deeply disturbing.

“The United States, like other free nations, has a long
history of supporting and embracing art by those of
many different values and viewpoints. The Smithsonian
museums host art that expresses strong religious
devotion and art that expresses atheism and doubt. The
museums house art from around the world, from every
religion, and allow Americans to make their own
decisions about what they like and what they don’t.
These museums are an educational resource for the
American people, not a political mouthpiece for the
majority opinion.

“The new GOP leadership wants a government that stays
out of people’s lives when it comes to health care and
unemployment benefits, but they show no scruples about
using government power to censor the free expression of
those they disagree with. The American people must
stand up to this blatant attempt to force politics into
art and religion into politics. ”

Christian Activists Force Smithsonian to Pull Aids
Video From Show

Catholic League denounced Washington gallery because of
sequence showing Jesus on cross being eaten by ants

Ed Pilkington in New York
December 1, 2010
The Guardian

Christian activists have notched up an important
victory in their attempt to cleanse the art world of
what they see as offensive use of religious images by
forcing the National Portrait Gallery in Washington to
remove a video about Aids from an exhibition on
sexuality in portraiture.

The Catholic League, one of the most aggressive
interventionist groups within the religious right,
expressed its relief after the decision was announced
last night to pull A Fire in My Belly, a four-minute
video that forms part of the gallery’s newly opened
show, Hide/Seek. The league had objected to a sequence
of 11 seconds within the video that depicts Jesus on
the cross being eaten by large black ants.

Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League, had
denounced the work as “hate speech” and called on
members of the US Congress to pull federal funding from
the gallery, part of the Smithsonian Institute, in
protest at its “offensive” curatorial stance. In fact,
the exhibition, which has been hailed as the first
attempt by a major museum in America to tackle the
topic of same-sex love in art, was largely funded by
private donors and foundations.

[Continue reading this article at:

Emphasis mine

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