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Generally, the left hates the concept of freedom. When it comes to arbitrarily control power, everything goes in order to destroy those who think differently. George Orwell said: “If freedom means anything, it will be, above all, the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.” Robespierre, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, and Fidel Castro used the political art of terror to suppress dissident thought. Therefore, you are only free when your opinions aren’t conditioned by the criteria of others.
One of the most unacceptable examples of the intolerance of leftist thought has taken place this year in various cultural institutions in the United States, where repressive attitudes are beginning to prevail that tend to weaken the rules of coexistence in the name of ideological Progressiveness.
Since the beginning of racial demonstrations, few museums, universities and cultural centers have not fired someone who is Conservative or slightly dissenting from what the left’s agenda understands as a more firm policy in assuming commitments to racial inclusion in its staff and in the way it manages the programming of its activities.
Becoming new regulators of American society, these officials -with the consent of the Democrats and a good deal of the powerful media -have taken on the role of deciding which works should be exhibited in museums, which authors are recommended to be taught in schools, or which professionals meet standards of racial ideological conformity in order to work in cultural institutions.
One of the first victims of this totalitarian crusade has been Gary Garrels, chief curator of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, who was forced to resign last July following comments he made after the gallery’s tendency to acquire only works by black artists: “We will continue to collect works by white artists,” otherwise it would be “reverse discrimination.”
His words cost him his job. The brigades of political correctness -a group of former museum employees- mounted a mob action immediately demanding his resignation because of his “toxic white supremacist beliefs.” Garrels apologized: “I don’t think I ever said it was important to collect white men’s art. I have said that it is important that we don’t exclude white men’s art.” The explanations weren’t enough. His departure came a week later, making him the fifth senior museum official to leave in less than a month.
Stigmatizing people and institutions
The phenomenon cannot be seen as a merely incidental act, since it follows years of federal and state policies aimed at fostering victimhood and racial hatred. The rise of political correctness as a new form of censorship was seen coming, especially using racism as the cause of all the ills of contemporary society.
At the New York Guggenheim, a group of curators sent a letter to museum officials that highlights the malicious use of just causes to stigmatize institutions and individuals “suspected” of being sexist or xenophobic through the use of the culture of cancellation and the rejection of free thought.
“The current inability of the museum to take full responsibility for its history or to respond adequately, either through statements or programming, to the global protests triggered by the assassination of George Floyd has highlighted the need for self-examination and growth necessary to move forward as an anti-racist institution,” the letter says. “A strong culture of open communication and exchange is needed to do this work,” reads the letter from the Guggenheim curators.
MoMA, Whitney and the Metropolitan, in order to align themselves with this policy of single thinking that dangerously threatens all of American society, have launched a series of internal initiatives to commit themselves to anti-racism and diversity.
Specifically, the MET has issued a list of guidelines that prioritize the hiring of individuals on the basis of their race, both for its executives and for all positions in the institution, in addition to anti-racism training, collection monitoring, and annual diversity audits.
These intimidating guidelines will exert unchecked and unappealable power over the operation of the institution and against those who do not practice racist admissions policies.
We are faced with a clear example of how the meritocracy of curators is beginning to be replaced by their degree of adherence to an ideological cause, generating a series of fears and suspicions typical of a repressive Communist system: distrust among officials, fear that they will think badly of you, suspicion of falling into disgrace, and the exercise of intimidation for not having sufficient merit in accordance with certain political guidelines.
Workers who don’t join this policy -according to the commands of trade union activism- will have to appreciate the humiliation that they and their families are willing to tolerate if they don’t comply with the dictates of the Progressive agenda.
So from now on the reputation of a gallery will depend on the number of works that do not include stories starring white men, or the number of paintings signed by black or Indian painters that hang on the walls of the museum, because, according to this ideological trend, their ethnic or racial heritage makes them -out of historical justice- better qualified.
When an institution sets patterns or policies that could have negative effects on minorities, judges and activists label them as acts of discrimination. But the same Progressives who support these positions would be baffled if the same principle of fairness were applied to NBA basketball teams where the majority of players are black, in a country where African Americans represent 13% of the population.
Not only is there no reliable evidence that giving priority -by decree- to the art represented by blacks in cultural institutions guarantees diversity, but there have also been a good number of studies on the subject that show how the artistic heritage that has been treasured for centuries in museums has been governed by criteria of quality, of prevailing artistic tendency and not by xenophobic hatred or discriminatory practices in use.
The key to the issue at hand does not lie in the working environments or in the specific activities considered unfair that promote racism and white supremacism. The substance of the problem goes much further and its explanations could be found behind these questions: Who are the managers and board members of the institutions that decide what attitudes and practices may or may not be discriminatory to the community? What knowledge do they have to decide and act above the freedom of others?
Exclusive and sectarian drift
Unfortunately, the irruption of ideological currents that appeal to Progressive causes to justify attitudes and behaviors of intransigent political correctness, are increasingly frequent.
Back in the summer, more than 400 members of the Linguistic Society of America (LSA), most of them students, sent a letter asking for the expulsion of writer and linguist, Steven Pinker, for having tweeted in 2015 that the cause of the police shootings in the United States was not only a matter of racial bias, but that there were other factors involved.
As this hypnotic mantra of “change” gains adherents in every corner of the country, racial activists within the cultural sector are being hailed as the Progressive vanguard of the American political scene. But they’re defending old fallacies, as if it were the 1960s all over again, or as if nothing has been achieved in civil rights since then. Their strategy is how to appear to be pro-Black and against those who are excluding them, based on a false sense of the diversity of an atavistic and backward looking clan.
What do they pursue with their arbitrary impositions, other than their obsession with the perverse use of just causes to stigmatize people who are not racist or xenophobic, and what lessons does civil society draw from this, other than to bow its head and submit to arbitrary power?
Leftists sectors believe they have the right to impose on others their idea of what is politically correct for society, a right that they deny with radical attitudes to all those who do not think like them. The essence of intolerance consists, precisely, in that, in denying others the place and the protagonism that one demands for oneself.
These attitudes are notorious proof of the exclusionary and sectarian drift that the racial debate has taken in the United States, in the hands of an opportunistic elite that uses a double standard when it comes to applying the principles of democracy and human rights.
Juan Carlos Sánchez, journalist and writer. His columns are published in different newspapers in Spain and the United States. He is the author of several books and is preparing the essay "Nación y libertad en el pensamiento económico del Conde Pozos Dulces" // Juan Carlos es periodista y escritor. Sus columnas se publican en diferentes diarios de España y EE.UU. Autor de varios libros, tiene en preparación la obra de ensayo “Nación y libertad en el pensamiento económico del Conde Pozos Dulces”