Home | About | Donate

With Move to Destroy or Cover Mural, San Francisco's 'Progressive' School Board Is Embarrassing Itself

Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2019/07/03/move-destroy-or-cover-mural-san-franciscos-progressive-school-board-embarrassing


Progress is not made by denying the past, but rather by learning from it in the spirit of George Santayana. Political correctness is a slippery slope at times. The students will figure it all out on their own if each and every one is treated with dignity and provided equal opportunities to excel. Let’s remember MLK’s aspiration for his progeny to be known by the content of their character rather than the color of their skin.


Sincere & Absurd or " sincerely absurd ", are the spelling and memorization words for the San Francisco School Board, during this summer’s remedial education sessions.
It appears the faculty lounges are serving way too much Kool-Aid to the usual suspects, here.


It will be interesting to see how the board will let this teachable moment escape. But if for some reason it doesn’t, it could develop a whole curriculum around the artist as social critic (see also Diego Rivera’s Rockefeller Center fresco, first commissioned by John D. Rockefeller Jr., and then destroyed when he found it personally and politically offensive).


Gorgeous mural. Why not spend all that cash on audio visuals to go with the viewing and share the history of the work and it’s subject matter.

How pathetic that truth is once again being usurped in the name of sparing young people the burden of all the facts.


I’m not black or indigenous, so I don’t believe I have the right to label as “ridiculous” the arguments of those who are over this mural, and I don’t believe them to be, in any event.

I do believe them to be misplaced, and in the same category as attempts to eliminate the use of the word “n gg r” (which I won’t spell out, solely to avoid my comment being barred) and other bigoted epithets, regardless of the circumstances.

The intense pain that largely drives these actions is very real, and cannot be dismissed, but I feel that the best way to address it is to confront the hateful history that has engendered it, as Arnautoff attempted to do.

Context is everything in such circumstances, yet has been obliterated here and in other instances. Aside from Dreier’s insensitive attitude toward those calling for the mural’s removal or concealment, I agree with his stance.

Educate, don’t eradicate.


Great idea to add an audio file to these paintings. If is done in a sensitive manner. It might also include comments of those who object to this painting and its display in a school along with comments who feel that it is a effective teaching tool.

“the school board members are embarrassing the city, and themselves, with their vote to dismantle or cover up Arnautoff paintings. They are, in fact, denying students the opportunity to learn about the nation’s controversial and contested past.

hear hear as the brits say


Showing the more complete world-view of George Washington is a service to the nation. That his , and at the ‘founding fathers’ ’ views are demeaning and "glorifie slavery, genocide, colonization, Manifest Destiny, white supremacy, oppression, " is a depiction of the truth.


Didja know that the state os Arkansaw (who’d hee see) has tried to outlawed Howard Zinn’s books in their schools? they have been trying for several years…):-


Censorship and historical ignorance.

People need to learn to view art in context, and that’s partly why students are in high school to begin with. Maybe they’d have heart failure if they took a trip to the Met?
Can’t handle reading Huck Finn either? (But they can listen to rap? Not to mention Donald Trump?)

Honestly, they sound like Republicans using identity politics to rationalize plain old bullshit. And another sign that the Democratic Party is dead.

They have no right to destroy that mural. It’s extraordinarily valuable.


Irony of "liberal’ San Francisco… instead of funding art education, which is constantly being slashed, paying an extraordinary amount of money to even destroy art.

They’re in good company with Hitler. Wonder if the board is even educated on that topic. Bunch of f’ing ignoramuses.

I can’t stand people who destroy art.

1 Like

As WiseOwl and others wrote, and I strongly endorse - We cannot destroy art to repair or change the past - like wise book-burning does not eradicate an idea. Ideas we oppose from history can be used by people of wisdom and conscience to teach about what the past has done. Destroy art, or a statue, and make it a martyr, use it to expose hatred, tyranny, oligarchy or slavery, and contrast history with love and empathy and we make progress, not martyrs, or elevate racists and /or neo-nazis!

We must elevate and educate the people!

The words of Tony Mckay, of Exuma fame, was a gifted and profound songwriter and musical legend. Exuma’s Fire in the Hole, tells the truth…that is sorely needed. McKay’s Fire should be one of our revolutions anthems!

1 Like

Art is suppose create a dialog, everyone sees thing differently. I think they should keep them and discuss them as a part of education.

1 Like

No surprise. They can’t have the truth, as it might make people question the myths.

1 Like

Totally agree with you BarnOwl. Some of the greatest art of the 20th Century arose from
the Great Depression, as thinking people rightly began to question the fundamental flaws inherent in our economic and political systems.

The destruction of art is a crime against generations past,present and future. Such crimes were one of our many shameful acts in the process of destroying Iraqi civilization.


My beloved artist auntie, who knows some about the artist, shared this with me. She is on the side of the art, which I respect, but for me, I’m not swayed by this writer’s viewpoint! Tho it’s distressing to hear of socially-conscious art potentially being destroyed (hopefully just moved somehow), I’m also quite aware that I’m distant from the people actually having that debate, and I suspect they have more nuance and maturity than the media reactions give them credit for.

To me, this is all a reminder that harmony and progress are best served if the most-impacted peoples have bigger roles in telling their own history and legacies, and choosing the formats, especially regarding the ugliest stuff. To depict foundational traumas that resound through our history, such as racialized murder, rape, genocide, humiliation and/or slavery… even if the artist was more socially-conscious than his peers… he doesn’t get a pass to have it kept on a pedestal just because it’s good art. I don’t think it’s fair that this writer scoffs at those who find that this mural’s approach rubs them the wrong way in this day and age. There was that college woman who carried around the mattress she was assaulted on, as a sort of provocative art, but that was her choice, to face it like that. To some people, the mural is just history that we need to acknowledge. But to others, I can only imagine it’s still too close to home.

I wonder if it’s more wise to put it in a museum or gallery, or in textbooks, and movies, like the Confederate stuff could be; but maybe not as a prominent feature in schools or parks that are just in young people’s face in their daily journey! I do think Bryan Stevenson’s major lynching memorials, or the lynching memorial in my past home of Duluth MN, are well-done modern steps forward, using art to face history. If they had rendered an actual image of the lynched bodies in Duluth’s Clayton-McGhie memorial, rather than the powerful images and quotes they did use, wouldn’t that have been kind of counterproductive and undignified to the victims, even tho they’re long dead?

I basically just don’t care for this writer presuming to tell the students and school officials that their offended-ness is illegitimate. From what I gather, many of the people who want the mural gone are people of color; it’s not naive white-fragility types who just prefer polly-anna history, which is what this writer seems to think. But again, I’m not there; I’m sure it’s been robustly discussed by the locals already.

The thing about good art is that it moves into history with a story. With but beyond the tone and tenor of the times.

A new venue would be dandy explaining and preserving the work and allowing others to experience what it has to say in their own way. Art can be provocative and serves both artist and public if it does it’s job.

I greatly appreciate your nuanced response. The proposal to destroy this work is in my mind throwing the baby out with the bath water. I’m hoping that those concerned can find a better solution.

1 Like

building more fragile snowflakes, one truth at a time. or, love them, they’re liberals. disclosure. I’m still lefter than right but it is getting very uncomfortable for a realist to play footsies with any iof these extremists. wheres the center…can’t hold, etc or feet of clay as daniel foretold…