This story takes place inside the hallowed halls of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), so you know it’s probably going to go downhill quickly. Don’t worry… it will.
The curator there for more than twenty years has been a gentleman by the name of Gary Garrels. In that time, Garrels has featured artists from around the globe, reflecting the constantly shifting trends in the art world and keeping the museum’s offerings fresh for the public. Of course, we’re speaking about Garrels in the past tense here because he’s no longer holding that coveted position. He was forced to step down after museum employees circulated a petition demanding his removal because they discovered that he harbored unacceptable racist beliefs.
So what did this guy do? Use the n-word? Were his ancestors slave-owners? Did he take some of the museum’s spare oil colors and paint over a Black Lives Matter logo? Nope. Garrels refused to stop considering the inclusion of white artists in the gallery’s collection. Let us all now take a moment to bow our heads very quickly downward… and smash them to our desks. (Reason)
Until last week, Gary Garrels was senior curator of painting and sculpture at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA). He resigned his position after museum employees circulated a petition that accused him of racism and demanded his immediate ouster.
“Gary’s removal from SFMOMA is non-negotiable,” read the petition. “Considering his lengthy tenure at this institution, we ask just how long have his toxic white supremacist beliefs regarding race and equity directed his position curating the content of the museum?”
This accusation—that Garrels’ choices as an art curator are guided by white supremacist beliefs—is a very serious one. Unsurprisingly, it does not stand up to even minimal scrutiny.
Garrels had given a presentation on the topic of (of all things) how to diversify the museum’s exhibits. At the conclusion, perhaps only humorously, he said, “don’t worry, we will definitely still continue to collect white artists.”
Garrels apparently committed the perverse sin of stating that the rejection of any and all white artists from the museum’s collection would constitute reverse racism. And that’s unforgivable for the woke crowd, because there is no such things as reverse racism in their world. Racism only goes in one direction, you see, and it can only be committed by white people. Any suggestion to the contrary is a thought crime and offenders must be quickly and severely punished in the Court of Woke Opinions.
Of course, my sympathy for Garrels’ position begins to drain away when I consider how this story ended. The museum’s directors didn’t force him to step down. In fact, there’s no suggestion in the local press that they even brought up the subject. In fact, they probably didn’t have time to. After finding out about the petition, Garrels took it upon himself to resign.
Garrels apologized for “the harm his words caused” and went meekly to his fate. As Robby Soave of Reason went on to point out, Garrels’ words are not the language of a white supremacist.
Those who say otherwise—that Garrels is guilty of racism—have stripped the word of its potency. They have shown once again that the signatories of the recent Harper’s letter were entirely correct that the progressive drive to purge lofty institutions of racism and sexism has frequently gone astray, in a manner that threatens both free inquiry and common decency. The 1793 Project continues.
That’s a much more eloquent way of saying something that I’ve been trying to point out since well before the Charlottesville debacle. If you make a habit of applying labels like Nazis and racists to everyone with whom you have a difference of opinion, you’re going to be completely unprepared and out of your depth when the actual Nazis and racists arrive. Further, the dilution and overuse of such stinging accusations drain them of all their power. In other words, when everything is racist, nothing is racist. Welcome to 2020.