Painting a portrait of America's division

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

In this historic week of a presidential inauguration, it seems odd to be writing about artwork.

But here we go.

Sen. Roy Blunt is the first Missourian to head the Congressional Inauguration Committee and, in that role, has selected a famous painting by Missouri artist George Caleb Bingham to hang in Washington during the massive celebrations in the Capitol.

This marks an historic opportunity for the state of Missouri to showcase the work of this world-renowned artist in this historic time.

The painting "The Verdict of the People" is one of a trio of politically themed painting from the 1850s that depicted an election day whirlwind of activity on a political campaign.

But somehow - though it seems only fitting for our polarized times - a St. Louis art historian and artist have started a petition drive to cancel the showing.

The two "experts" - obviously not in the Trump camp - believe the painting is "an implicit endorsement of Trumps' presidency and his expressed values of hatred, misogyny, racism and xenophobia."

Ironically, Bingham described the artwork at the time as anti-slavery to reflect his support for the Union.

But what is the lack of facts to a leftist who wants to create any level of chaos and opposition to the Trump presidency?

The second artwork in the news comes from none other than our very own Rep. Lacy Clay of Missouri's First District in St. Louis.

Clay, a member of the Black Congressional Caucus, selected a painting by an 18-year-old St. Louis student to hang with other winners in a student art competition in the Capitol.

But Clay's artwork selection depicts law enforcement officers as pigs attacking innocent blacks on the streets of St. Louis. The painting, according to Clay, is a reflection of the upheaval in Ferguson following the Michael Brown case.

To put it mildly, there was a bit of an uproar over the painting.

Rep. Duncan Hunter of California took matters in his own hands and removed the artwork and returned it to Clay's office.

Then Clay along with members of the Black Congressional Caucus gathered the media and their cameras to record the rehanging of the artwork. Clay also called for Capitol police to arrest Duncan.

Clay's actions come despite official letters of protest from the police union.

Clay has tried to take the high road approach citing the constitutional right of the artist.

He said he neither agrees nor disagrees with the message of the artwork and only wants the freedom to allow this student to express himself.

But then he adds, "The African-American community has had a painful tortured history with law enforcement in this country."

It was no accident that Clay's office selected this race-fueled anti-law enforcement artwork.

The left's obsession with race is the fuel that feeds the polarization in this country.

To portray law enforcement as racist pigs is an affront to the dedication and sacrifice these men and women in law enforcement make daily.

Clay should be ashamed of himself for his grandstanding hubris and the two St. Louis art "experts" should go back to doing what they do best - whatever that might be.

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