June 30, 2019
About ten years ago, Thetford Academy hosted an exchange student from Turkey. In one of his history classes at T.A., he learned — for the first time — about the Armenian genocide. There is, you see, no mention of the Armenian genocide in Turkish schools (even at the university level).
But ignoring the past doesn’t erase it.
I was reminded of that when I read today that the San Francisco Board of Education recently voted unanimously to cover a series of murals at George Washington High School that includes images of a dead Native American and slaves at work.
The murals were created in the 1930’s as part of a WPA project by Victor Arnautoff, a Russian-born artist, social realist and Communist whose lifelong body of work stressed his concern about inequality in class, labor and power. The murals presented a counter-narrative to the story of “Manifest Destiny” typically told in American public schools, in which the role of slavery and the virtual destruction of Native American civilization is minimized or ignored. In the words of the vice-president of the school’s alumni association, “The content and the art quality is priceless,” and serve as “reminders of what was, what is and what should never happen again.”
But the Board felt that some students might be offended by the murals. So away they must go.
And, no, they won’t be removed and displayed elsewhere. They will either be covered up or painted over. At the cost of at least $500,000.
Remember how outraged everyone was when the Taliban blew up the world’s two largest-standing Buddhas?