Columnist Jim Pinkerton coins a new term on Tech Central Station: Big Art.
Pinkerton notes: “Working together, the elites of the media and the culture have mostly controlled ‘Big Art’ — the complex of museums, monuments, and galleries that help to shape the way we think about society, history, even politics.”
But now the “gilded oligarchy” is up in arms because New York Gov. George Pataki has vetoed its plans for an International Freedom Center on the site of the Twin Towers.
“The saga of the International Freedom Center stands in sharp contrast to the story of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial a quarter-century ago. When Maya Lin’s design was unveiled in 1981, everybody understood that the design was deliberately downbeat and defeatist. That’s why the dovish left loved it so much, and why the hawkish right hated it so much.
“But of course, the left was smart enough not to admit its true motivation, which was to bury the Vietnam War under even more arty obloquy. Why? Because the bedrock of the country always had mixed feelings about Vietnam; yes, most people thought it was a mistake, but they also somewhat agreed with Ronald Reagan, who said during the 1980 presidential campaign that the war had been a ‘noble cause’ and went on to win 41 states. The lefty art critics, haute design juries, museum muckety-mucks, and foundation panjandrums knew better than to take on such nationalist sentiment head-on; so instead, they slid around the obvious politics of the design — how many war memorials are underground? — and instead praised Lin’s design for its brilliance. And so all through that period, 1981-2, the MSM — which is to say, ‘the media’ — brimmed with articles, interviews, and opinion pieces lauding the design.”
But, Pinkerton notes, the AIC (arts intellectual complex) hasn’t had such smooth sailing with the International Freedom Center:
“[T]imes, and technologies, change. The MSM all of a sudden had competition from the NM (new media). And the NM started turning a critical eye toward the AIC, including its plan to do another ‘Maya Lin’ on Ground Zero. And thus our tale of a funny thing happening on the way to the Freedom Center.
“The fight began for real on June 8, when Debra Burlingame, whose brother was killed at the Pentagon on 9-11, published an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, in which she warned that future visitors to the World Trade Center site would not get a fitting memorial, but something different altogether: they would get the IFC. ‘Rather than a respectful tribute to our individual and collective loss,’ Burlingame declared, ‘they will get a slanted history lesson, a didactic lecture on the meaning of liberty in a post-9/11 world. They will be served up a heaping foreign policy discussion over the greater meaning of Abu Ghraib and what it portends for the country and the rest of the world.’ And she ended her cri de coeur with the lament, ‘Ground Zero has been stolen, right from under our noses!'”