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Anti-racister than thou

Twice in the last few days artworks projecting a self-consciously anti-racist message have been removed from show – on the grounds that they were racist.

Council removes Banksy artwork after complaints of racism

Barbican criticises protesters who forced Exhibit B cancellation

32 comments to Anti-racister than thou

  • Why not just ban all art for fear of causing offence? Problem sorted!

  • bloke in spain

    There’s a good message in these two stories.
    You want to go make political points, do so in space you’ve paid for & have control of.* The presumption the “public” space is obliged to host your messages is an unfounded conceit. You leave yourself open to the whims of those manage that space. Just because it’s “public” doesn’t mean you own it.

    *Yes, no doubt there may have been an element of “paying for” in the Barbican exhibition. But it wouldn’t have served to pay for the facilities. The venue relies on public funding for its existence. You want to politically message unimpeded, go talk to the capitalists & rent a theater. They don’t care what colour your money is as long as you’re good for it. TANSTAAFL

  • Henry Crun

    Anti-racism eats itself.

  • To be perfectly honest, my brain begins to hurt as I’m trying to understand who was protesting what, and who may have been offended as a consequence. But then, as it often happens in such cases, I begin to wonder: does it even matter?…

  • Andrew Duffin

    From the second story “…the Barbican rejected the criticisms…”

    Well no, it didn’t; it caved in to them.

    But I suppose this was a report in The Graun.

  • Ian Bennett

    “Council removes Banksy artwork after complaints of racism”

    Surely it should be “Council removes Banksy artwork after complaints of vandalism”

  • I think BiS has it right, do it in a truly private space and then tell people who protest to “go fuck yourself, but thanks for the publicity!” 😉

  • Natalie Solent (Essex)

    I generally agree with your point, bloke in spain, but unless you are fortunate enough to own a suitable space yourself, you will have to seek out a landlord who has some backbone. Some are even more spineless than the public sector. Look at internet service providers who demand that blogs or websites be taken down at the least violation of political correctness. I defend the right of property owners to spinelessness while wishing it were not so.

  • Paul Marks

    It is all insane.

  • Does your brain hurt too, Paul?

  • Laird

    Well, I for one think this is a good thing. I am offended by anti-racist holier-than-thou feel-good tripe.

  • Tarrou

    There is a certain hilarity and schadenfreude in watching the PC fascists eat their own, but it only comes after the poisoning and chaining of a nation’s discourse and interactions.

    My current favorite, the first (and to my knowledge, only) business prosecuted under Colorado’s new Gay Rights law that makes it illegal to refuse service to gay people is……a gay bar. Apparently a “Bear” bar refused entrance to a drag queen for being too effeminate.


  • Brad

    All this shows is people will use any foothold – anti or anti-anti or anti-anti-anti or whatever – to legitimize grabbing a hold of Power and using Force against people. It doesn’t have to make sense. It can be contradictory as hell. It just matters to get Power and use Force. It probably helps that IS confusing. Keeps those who are being put upon from resisting because they don’t know rightly what they are resisting against.

  • Alsadius

    Does Banksy vandalize? I mean, obviously he started that way, but today he’s such a big name he could probably get permission from just about anyone to paint their buildings. I’d take an offer to replace my wall with $100,000+ any day.

  • Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.

  • Michael Jennings

    The Banksy mural is surely a comment on the relative flying ability of European and African swallows. From that perspective I think it is quite funny.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    The art version of a circular firing squad.

  • RAB

    Well my brain hurts Alisa. Anytime anything regarding Race get mentioned, those of a Sinister persuasion come over all Hard of Thinking. The Banksy is amusing and obviously anti racist. How could anyone with more than two functioning brain cells see it otherwise? We in Bristol all know who he is by the way, it’s hardly a secret anymore. He’s a friend of a friend of mine, who is also an artist.

    There is also the matter of the Colston Hall here in Bristol which needs renovation to the tune of 20 million or so. It is Bristol’s main concert venue, and has been for a hundred years. I have spent many decades watching the world’s top bands perform there. It is named after Edward Colston, a merchant of Bristol who gave it to the city, but made much of his money from the Slave trade, as did many merchants in Bristol. It was a reprehensible trade but not an illegal one at the time, and is a solid fact, but as a condition for the funding, many of the usual suspects want the name changed. This is nonsense. Facts are facts, no matter how regrettable. You cannot airbrush facts out of history, you have to stare it square in the face, and spit in its eye if necessary.

  • This is actually marvelous: anti-racism is inherently racist, highlighting as it does the differences between ethnic groups and advocating treating them differently is the very essence of racism. Designating some of them as ‘victims’ and suggesting that some groups are more easily offended than others and so on (and need to be protected by the mighty white race) is racism, and that’s even before you get onto such things as positive discrimination / affirmative action which cannot logically be anything other than coming right out and saying that some groups are less trustworthy/intelligent/hard-working than others and therefore need help to get on in life.
    The only reason these blatantly racist attitudes pass muster is because they are put forward by people who’s PC credentials have been previously vetted. As soon as the local council miss that it’s a Banksy then they remove it as ‘offensive.’

  • Richard Thomas

    “Are you being ironic?”

    “I don’t even know anymore.”

    Classic Simpsons.

  • Richard Thomas

    Rab: Banksy was outed to the world a few months back. It’s no biggy anymore.

    But I wonder what the situation would be were he a gentleman of color.

  • Richard Thomas

    Last post I promise.

    So which of “Migrants not welcome”, “Go back to Africa” or, indeed, “Keep off our worms” is racist?

  • bloke in spain

    Well Natalie (@ 12:53), probably worthwhile to make the vehicle of one’s message, interesting, amusing, artistic (WETF that means) enough to get the punters paying to see it. Problem solved. Whichever good capitalist was it who turned down a chance to make an honest buck?
    Which makes the Banksey thing so amusing. Guy could have rented an advertising hoarding, got his message over & cleared a fair wedge on the original & a limited signed print run. He should wear a mask whilst airbrushing. The solvents must rot the brain.

  • bloke in spain

    But right-on messages lack sufficient cred, unless delivered at public expense. I s’pose.

  • The Sanity Inspector

    The familiar sight of the Revolution turning and ankle-biting its own.

  • Rosenquist

    The graffiti was very obviously taking the piss out of anti-immigration populism, quite how it was misconstrued as ‘racist’ is baffling. Then again Clactonians are not the brightest of people.

  • bloke in spain

    Just re-read Natalie’s post @12:53 & realised I failed to address this:

    “Look at internet service providers who demand that blogs or websites be taken down at the least violation of political correctness.”

    Now I don’t know about Samizdat, but I pay for a domain & the hosting of a website. And what I put on that website is between me & the hosting company. ISPs are simply the way the website & visitors access the internet & have no control of content. It’s always possible, I suppose, it could fall foul of some ISP’s filter policy, but that’s the visitor’s problem, not mine. If you’re denied access, get yourself a decent ISP. There’s loads around.

    I think what you’re referring to is people who are hosted on free platforms. Blogger, Facebook etc. Well WTF do you expect? Ask for a refund 🙂 In a sense, these are again “public” spaces. But they’re owned by the people who supply them. You have no rights of free speech there whatsoever. So what are you complaining about?

  • Nicholas (Natural Genius) Gray

    Rosenquist, aren’t you indulging in locationism? You’ve created a new ism for the peeceers to use! Shame, shame, shame! Stereotyping by place should have no place here in civilised company. You just can’t trust non-Australians…

  • Tedd

    …anti-racism is inherently racist…

    Just picking a nit here, but I think what you really meant was that leftist anti-racism is racist. Real anti-racism must, by definition, not be racist.

  • Wontons made daily

    Accept the fact that you are seeing the world through the eyes of white privilege. Being born white is essentially racist, so follow the logic and fight racism by not being born, or at least have second thoughts about raising kids, please!

  • Schrodinger's Dog

    Just how were these thugs able to get away with this?

    The Public Order Acts give the police very wide powers – many would say too wide. So why weren’t these people ordered to either disperse or face arrest? Indeed, had it been a crowd of EDL or BNP members, I do not doubt for an instant that’s what would have happened.

    So, just what’s going on?

  • Rich Rostrom

    Natalie Solent (Essex) @ October 2, 2014 at 12:53 pm: Look at internet service providers who demand that blogs or websites be taken down at the least violation of political correctness.

    I think there’s some agency confusion here. An ISP would not demand that a site be taken down – they would take it down.

    Demands for website removal come from other actors to ISPs. The spineless ISP then caves into the demand.

    Under U.S. law, ISPs are not responsible for the content of hosted websites. One condition of this immunity is that they never censor websites on their own initiative. This makes them “common carriers” providing a generalized service to all comers.

    If an ISP were to review website content and delete those considered unacceptable – it would assume editorial responsibility for content.

    The spinelessness comes in when third parties get involved; as for example when Youtube deletes videos because Moslems complain they are blasphemous.

    Incidetally, Youtube and other video hosts have taken off jihadist videos in response to complaints from anti-jihadist watchdogs.

    So it cuts more than one way.