Art’s Troubles

I Duly acknowledging that the plural of anecdote is not data, I begin with some stories drawn from the recent history of liberal democracy. • In November 2010, the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution removed an edited version of footage used in David Wojnarowicz’s short silent film A Fire in My Belly from “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture” at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery after complaints from the Catholic League, and in response to threats of reduced federal funding. The video contains a scene with a crucifix covered in ants. William Donohue of the Catholic League claimed the work was “hate speech” against Catholics. The affair was initiated by an article contributed to the Christian News Service, a division of the Media Research Center, whose mission is to “prove — through sound scientific research — that liberal bias in the media does exist and undermines traditional American values.” • In October 2015, Dareen Tatour, an Israeli Arab from a village in the Galilee, was arrested. She had written a poem: “I will not succumb to the ‘peaceful solution’ / Never lower my flags / Until I evict them from my land.” A video clip uploaded by Tatour shows her reading the poem, “Resist, my people, resist them,” against the backdrop of masked people throwing rocks and firebombs at Israeli security forces. The day after the uploading, she posted: “The Islamic Jihad movement hereby declares the continuation of the intifada throughout the West Bank…. Continuation means expansion… which means all of Palestine. And we must begin within the Green Line… for the victory of Al-Aqsa, and we shall declare a general intifada. #Resist.” In 2018, Tatour was given a five months’ jail sentence. In May 2019, her conviction for the poem was overturned by the Nazareth District Court, but

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