Mural deemed too violent for school
GREENWICH, Conn. --A restored Revolutionary War mural painted in the 1930s will not be returned to an elementary school because it is too violent for children, a neighborhood group decided.
The mural shows Gen. Israel Putnam, a war hero from Greenwich who fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill, half-naked and about to be burned at the stake. He aims a gun at wolves while men around him fight with guns and knives.
The mural was commissioned by the Works Progress Administration in 1935 and painted by James Daugherty of Weston. It was displayed in the gym at Hamilton Avenue school for nearly 60 years until it was removed in 1998 and restored.
Now not seeing the mural in question, I can't judge as a parent whether I would consider it overly graphic or not; that it remained in place for more than 60 years without registering enough objections to merit removal tends to argue against its pernicious effects on the students of Greenwich, Connecticut.
But the fact that an artistic depiction of deemed violence is being dumped on the same day we legalize torture and tyranny points to the huge gap in logic in American society, most explicitly categorized as a dedicated slavishness to honoring form over substance. God forbid our children see violence on TV, in our history books or in fiction. And God forbid we adults be subjected to videos and/or photographs of violence in Iraq, Abu Ghraib or Gitmo. Or even solemn, sanitized photos of our flag-draped coffins of our fallen soldiers. Muzzle the media, please, at all costs.
We airbrush history even as we suspend our most basic rights with a minimum of discussion. Please, torture the presumed guilty in my name, but for God's sake, don't make me look at - or think about, or take responsibility for - the pain, misery and death inflicted in my name with my tax dollars.
Hunter last night offered A Modest Proposal for slowing down the constitutional train wreck unfolding in the Senate today, asking why we can't take the time for more debate and discussion of the issue. The answer, of course, is that if the president were pinned down to graphically explaining specifics of what methods he wants to authorize, the country - even large elements of his base - would rebel. Stalwart, bloodthirsty Republican operatives would expand the ranks of the traitorous by rhetorically damning those who lack courage or will to see this endless War on Terror through. They'd claim the American public doesn't have the stomach for what's needed to be a winner in the game of empire.
And they would be right: The American public does not have the stomach for the reality of what's being authorized here. There is at least a small satisfaction in that, because I do believe the facts will drip their way into the American consciousness eventually, and what's being legalized today will result in a great virulent revulsion against the party that debased this country's underlying principles.
Not having the national stomach for torture is not, as our rights-suspending Republicans would have it, a weakness. Indeed, it may well end up in the long run being our greatest strength as a nation. If a school in Greenwich, Connecticut, can't countenance knives and guns on display in an historical mural that's been in place for six decades, it's hard to see how our national sensibilities about the details of waterboarding can long outlast the Bush reign of terror. That's about the only ray of hope I can offer on this otherwise dismal day.