by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Michael Pearce writes for the Martin Center about students’ role in depoliticizing art schools.
It has never been harder to teach artistic individualism in America.
A religious devotion to the causes of social justice dominates the ideas of professors in the academy, and David Randall’s report “Social Justice Education in America” has made clear that their evangelical zeal for teaching students the merits of intersectional political activism is topped only by the enthusiasm of university administrators for it.
The cultish creed has permeated throughout universities, with moderate professors bowing to the mob and leaving the tiny minority of their conservative colleagues paranoid and fearful of speaking out against the ideology that has dominated them. Their voices are silenced by the threat of anonymous denunciations and by the examples that have been made of bullied colleagues who endured threats of violence, unemployment, lost homes, and the harm caused to their families.
Thus, the burden of making change happen within art schools may rest upon the shoulders of art students who abhor demands to politicize their work.
The social justice warriors’ ongoing takeover of American education extends to attacks upon art museums, which is where education meets the public sphere. They recently forced the closure of a traveling retrospective show of paintings by Philip Guston. Why? The museum’s boards were frightened that Guston’s paintings of Klansmen might “trigger” their visitors, despite the fact that the artist always used them as symbols of evil.
The exhibit was canceled due to fear of the social justice mob.
Museums are among the targets of the faithful because they are seen as public symbols of the oppressive power structures that subjugate racial, ethnic, and sexual minorities. They are easy targets: A majority of them have claimed to be bastions of old-fashioned liberalism since the 1930s, the New Deal era that was the high-water mark of the American left.