Anti-Semitic Artwork Raises Eyebrows, but Not Hard Questions, in Germany

In May, one of Germany’s most prestigious art shows featured a giant mural created by an Indonesian artistic collective called Taring Padi. According to Taring Padi, “figures depicted in the banner reference commonly-known symbols within the Indonesian political context, for example corrupt bureaucracy, military generals [sic] and their soldiers, which are symbolized by pigs, dogs, and rats to criticize an exploitative capitalist system and military violence.” Jurek Molnar explains the ensuing controversy, which led to parts of the mural being covered up, before it was removed completely:

What is not mentioned [in the official description] is that some of the soldiers are depicted as pigs and one of them has a line on his helmet that reads “Mossad.” He is also wearing a Star of David on a scarf. Another figure is a somehow-identifiable Jewish man with vampire teeth and an “SS” logo on his bowler hat. The banner itself was made twenty years ago and shown around the world at several festivals of the same kind and nobody ever seemed to have taken offence. At least that’s the perspective of Taring Padi. They were never challenged at all, because “anti-Zionism” is a standard idea among progressives all around the world and outside Europe they never triggered any sensitivities.

Their perspective is what most progressives think about the issue. Anti-imperialism and anti-militarism come by default with a Palestinian flag. And nobody ever questioned that Taring Padi’s noble activism against Suharto’s dictatorship and its critique of militarism naturally has to involve Jews painted as pigs and vampires. If these are really “commonly-known symbols within the Indonesian political context,” then these must be quite regular images in [the artists’] work and of course in their own bubble of global political leftwing milieux.

The condemnations in the German press were shared by all mainstream media organizations; even demands for banning Taring Padi from the festival were widespread. That’s not nothing. But . . . Taring Padi’s excuse that the banner only reflects local political issues was accepted without further questions and they will continue to propagate their noble cause against imperialism and militarism. . . . . Nobody, it seems, wasted any thought how anti-Semitism and Jews with SS signs on their hats do play into the political protests in Indonesia.

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Read more at Harry’s Place

More about: Anti-Semitism, Art, Germany, Indonesia, Progressivism

 

Salman Rushdie and the Western Apologists for Those Who Wish Him Dead

Aug. 17 2022

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder and supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, issued a fatwa (religious ruling) in 1989 calling for believers to murder the novelist Salman Rushdie due to the content of his novel, The Satanic Verses. Over the years, two of the book’s translators have been stabbed—one fatally—and numerous others have been injured or killed in attempts to follow the ayatollah’s writ. Last week, an American Shiite Muslim came closer than his many predecessors to killing Rushdie, stabbing him multiple times and leaving him in critical condition. Graeme Wood comments on those intellectuals in the West who have exuded sympathy for the stabbers:

In 1989, the reaction to the fatwa was split three ways: some supported it; some opposed it; and some opposed it, to be sure, but still wanted everyone to know how bad Rushdie and his novel were. This last faction, Team To Be Sure, took the West to task for elevating this troublesome man and his insulting book, whose devilry could have been averted had others been more attuned to the sensibilities of the offended.

The fumes are still rising off of this last group. The former president Jimmy Carter was, at the time of the original fatwa, the most prominent American to suggest that the crime of murder should be balanced against Rushdie’s crime of blasphemy. The ayatollah’s death sentence “caused writers and public officials in Western nations to become almost exclusively preoccupied with the author’s rights,” Carter wrote in an op-ed for the New York Times. Well, yes. Carter did not only say that many Muslims were offended and wished violence on Rushdie; that was simply a matter of fact, reported frequently in the news pages. He took to the op-ed page to add his view that these fanatics had a point. “While Rushdie’s First Amendment freedoms are important,” he wrote, “we have tended to promote him and his book with little acknowledgment that it is a direct insult to those millions of Moslems whose sacred beliefs have been violated.” Never mind that millions of Muslims take no offense at all, and are insulted by the implication that they should.

Over the past two decades, our culture has been Carterized. We have conceded moral authority to howling mobs, and the louder the howls, the more we have agreed that the howls were worth heeding. The novelist Hanif Kureishi has said that “nobody would have the [courage]” to write The Satanic Verses today. More precisely, nobody would publish it, because sensitivity readers would notice the theological delicacy of the book’s title and plot. The ayatollahs have trained them well, and social-media disasters of recent years have reinforced the lesson: don’t publish books that get you criticized, either by semiliterate fanatics on the other side of the world or by semiliterate fanatics on this one.

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Read more at Atlantic

More about: Ayatollah Khomeini, Freedom of Speech, Iran, Islamism, Jimmy Carter