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'Artists' as Servants of Power

Von: Ubiquitous (weberm@polaris.net) [Profil]
Datum: 22.09.2009 11:04
Message-ID: <dNidnaXzgKkfLSXXnZ2dnUVZ_uadnZ2d@giganews.com>
Newsgroup: alt.arts alt.tv.pol-incorrect alt.politics.usa alt.politics.obama
Andrew Breitbart's Big Hollywood is out today with new details on the National
Endowment for the Arts scandal, including a full transcript and audio
recording, as well as a CliffsNotes summary by John Nolte, of the notorious
Aug. 10 conference call in which administration officials urged artists to
help promote President Obama's legislative agenda.

Formally, the call was led by Michael Skolnik, who is not a government
employee. But Skolnik declares at the start of the call that he is acting on
behalf of the administration:

I have been asked by folks in the White House and folks in
the NEA about a month ago in a conversation that was had. We
had the idea that I would help bring together the independent
artists community around the country.

Several administration officials also participate in the call: Nell Abernathy
of United We Serve, part of the Corp. for National and Community Service;
Buffy Wicks of the White House Office of Public Engagement; and Yosi Sergant,
then communications director for the NEA (he has been "reassigned" since the
scandal broke).

The administration participants seem to realize that they are treading on
shaky ethical and legal ground. When one artist asks Abernathy "what we can do
to help on critical advocacy issues like health care reform, cap-and-trade
policy," she replies:

Yeah, I can address that a little bit, and the reason only
a little bit is largely because in my role at a federal
agency, I'm precluded from going too far down the specific
steps what people can do to advocate. . . .

I could get that information to Michael [Skolnik] and he could
get it out. We can't sort--as a representative of the corporation,
I'm not capable of giving you more guidance than just sending
you to the right person.

Yet she is capable of participating in the call. What happened after the call
ought to raise eyebrows too. As Nolte reports:

Sergant then turns the call over to Thomas Bates from "Rock
the Vote," who offers up an example of local environmental
activism involving a garbage sculpture. Within days after
this call Rock the Vote would launch a "health care design
contest."

A mere two days after the call a group of 21 art organizations
endorsed health care reform.

Of those 21 organizations, "16 of the groups and affiliated
organizations received nearly $2 million in grants from the
National Endowment for the Arts in the 150 days before the
conference call."

The NEA Web site describes its mission as follows: "supporting excellence in
the arts, both new and established; bringing the arts to all Americans; and
providing leadership in arts education." Organizing propaganda for the party
in power is not mentioned, nor is financially rewarding politically friendly
artists. A quote from the New York Times obituary of Irving Kristol seems
especially prescient:

After marrying, Mr. Kristol followed his wife to Chicago,
where she was doing graduate work and where he had what
he called "my first real experience of America." Drafted
into the Army with a number of Midwesterners who were
street-tough and often anti-Semitic, he found himself
shedding his youthful radical optimism. "I can't build
socialism with these people," he concluded. "They'll
probably take it over and make a racket out of it."

This is not the first time the NEA has sparked controversy. Nearly two decades
ago, during the George H.W. Bush administration, it was at the center over a
battle over taste: The NEA had given grants to photographers who produced
sexually explicit or religiously offensive work (Robert Mapplethorpe, Andres
Serrano) and to "performance artists" who ranted and raved and took off their
clothes (most memorably Karen Finley).

We covered that NEA battle as a young writer for a sparsely circulated,
now-defunct newspaper. It was a classic culture-war skirmish, but it was not
especially partisan. Indeed, it was a Democratic Congress that imposed
restrictions on grants for indecent art, while the Republican-appointed NEA
head, John Frohnmayer, took the side of the target artists. Indeed, in 1990 we
attended a lecture in which Julianne Davis, general counsel to the Bush NEA,
described religious-right critics of the endowment as "our enemies" and
falsely ascribed extreme theological views to one of them.

It was obvious back then that much of the so-called arts community leaned left
politically. At the time, Frohnmayer's NEA notwithstanding, the administration
in power did not, so that artists could pose as oppositional figures, speaking
truth--or at least shouting obscenities--to power.

Now that their side is in power, however, that adversary attitude stands
exposed as a sham. The so-called oppositional artists are only too willing to
act as handmaidens of the powerful. We backhandedly salute the Obama
administration for exposing this.

Meanwhile, as with Van Jones and Acorn, the mainstream media have had little
to say about this scandal. The New York Times hasn't even reported it at all.
What we said about artists in the preceding paragraph applies to the so-called
adversary press as well.

--
It's now time for healing, and for fixing the damage the Democrats did
to America.




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