I pray I will be forgiven for taking His name in vain, but I thank God for all He has done to make sure we have leaders, stand-up guys, noble elected officials, you might even call them mensches, like Majority Leader Eric Cantor and incoming House Speaker, John Boehner, who called today for the closing, or "censoring" as an American would say, of part of an exhibit at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery lest some visitors conclude "that we (the artists) were intentionally trying to spoil the Christmas season."
Don't you just love that? With all the joblessness, foreclosures, homelessness, an exploding deficit and a couple of wars we are fighting, these dedicated leaders are battling to keep a piece of art from spoiling our Christmas season. But it isn't just the art they're preventing from spoiling our Christmas season. They don't want new taxes to spoil peoples' Christmas either, especially people who make millions, or even billions. I suppose because the richer they are the bigger the gifts like boats and villas and things, and when you spoil Christmases of that size -- I mean that is so much spoilage!.
Then, too, can you imagine how bad those big corporations would have felt if their Christmases had been spoiled because they were kept from pouring all that anonymous money into the recent elections to put people in office who will vote with Cantor and Boehner on things that are important to them? If they had failed, the Christmases that would have been spoiled would likely have included the entire Republican Party and the Tea Partiers and a fellow named Bill Donohue who calls himself the Catholic League.
The part of the exhibit that was cut from the installation at the National Portrait Gallery, which dealt with sex and the AIDS epidemic in Latin America, was 11 seconds of a video that shows ants crawling on a Christ figure. Now I confess to being made uneasy by that. At the same time I recognize that those words and the image conveyed in those words are totally out of context. In context I might be more accepting. But the artist responsible for the piece doesn't require my acceptance. Or Eric Cantor's. Or John Boehner's. In or out of context. He was expressing himself in his art and, God Bless America, the First Amendment guarantees his right to that expression.
It guaranteed the right all those years ago for that group of Nazis to march in Skokie, Illinois. Talk about my feeling uneasy! But I supported their right to express themselves. The morning after the march a dead pig was tossed over a fence to the front door of our home. And a homemade sign on the fence read, "Die, Nazi-lover!"
Sound like something the extreme right might have done? Maybe the Religious Right? Uh-uh. It was the Jewish Defense League. It isn't politics that makes for strange bedfellows. Or religion. It's hate. And fear.