What If Pastor Terry Jones Had Called His Koran Burning 'Art'?
But (there's always a "but" in such testy cases), when I juxtapose this one twisted symbolic gesture against the disregard-and I would argue contempt-being shown by so-called "moderate" practitioners of Islam who insist on building their mosque almost on top of the ashes of 9/11 victims against the wishes of so many Americans, I can understand the frustration that creates a Jones and his ilk. And the fact is, as Mayor Bloomberg offered up, if there is freedom of speech for the fanatical Muslim goose, it must also be for the crackpot Christian gander.
However, something did occur to me this weekend. Jones is going about this all wrong. If he really wants to burn the Islamic holy book, I know a way that he could do it while at the same time have every left wing pundit and mainstream news outlet not decry his act but rather defend and even celebrate it. He should burn it on the steps of the Museum Of Modern Art up here in New York. And instead of calling it a protest, or a statement, he should just call his Quran torching "art." In the interest of consistency, artistic integrity and fairness, maybe he can even do it in the building, right on the same spot where in 1989 the infamous "Piss Christ" photo was proudly exhibited. You remember that? The piece of "art" that showed a crucifix submerged in urine? As artist Andres Serrano explained his artistic vision in an open letter to the National Endowment for the Arts:
The photograph, and the title itself, are ambiguously provocative but certainly not blasphemous. Over the years, I have addressed religion regularly in my art. My Catholic upbringing informs this work which helps me to redefine and personalize my relationship with God. My use of such bodily fluids as blood and urine in this context is parallel to Catholicism's obsession with "the body and blood of Christ." It is precisely in the exploration and juxtaposition of the symbols from which Christianity draws it strength.
That seemed just fine and dandy to the free speech warriors and beret crowd back in the day. In fact, Serrano's inspired piece won the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art's "Awards in the Visual Arts" competition which was partially funded by that same NEA-your tax dollars at work.
Do catch it all.