May 21, 2012

Chicago Riot Cops Defending Art Institute from the People? Now, That's Surreal.

Art Institute Chicago NATO demonstrations

Winston Churchill, in a time of war, saw that the arts were the voice of his people; the soul of his civilization, and the very expression of what is was to be a … citizen. If we as Americans are so willing to grossly over-fund our military and defund our arts, our deepest expression of ourselves both at home and abroad is simply an expression of war. Instead of cultivating unity and transcendence of boundaries throughout the world, we are propagating a world at war.

— from: Military Funding vs. Funding for the Arts: What Does the Difference Say About American Values? by Brendan McMahon (HuffPo)

Whether he’s the author of the quote or not, Churchill is famous for having rejected a WWII request to cut arts funding by his Finance Minister who was scraping every penny for the war effort, by asking: “Then what are we fighting for?”

I’m sure this photo of Chicago riot cops protecting the Art Institute of Chicago looks cool to some, but it couldn’t be more blasphemous. Just think about it. America, as a hyper-militarized state, having spent the last ten years engaged in a global war on terror, is hosting an international conference for NATO, the organization at the center point of that militarization. Further consider, one of the main attributes of that terror war has been the militarization of local police forces across the country. The agenda? Stifling public dissent in the face of the social need and humanitarian agenda sacrificed to the terror agenda. (Perhaps they were called in by Bank of America, the “global sponsor” hosting the blockbuster show?)

I think I need to go dust off my copy of Catch-22.

(photo: William DeShazer, Chicago Tribune caption: Chicago police line up outside the Art Institute as protesters draw near. May 20, 2012)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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