“Hanging” the Confederate Flag, for the Children of Course

16 03 2007

This is Florida. “The rules are different here” was our old tourism slogan and it’s true. Except for this — like everywhere else, we just make ’em up as we go along, careening from one bad decision to another, without really THINKING about what we’re doing or why! Public process is badly broken.

We aren’t merely clumsy with unreason, we can be spectacular! The Terri Schiavo debacle was under Florida’s “different” rules. Heck, in my overeducated, socially liberal and clean capital city where the Legislature is meeting even as we speak, those few remaining havens of thought for people like me — museums and libraries — somehow got sucked into some brainless race baiting recently. It seems they are trying to follow “rules” about public access that apparently don’t connect to defensible principles about public education. Don’t even get me started on the news media abdicating its role in free, thinking society.

And this “public service” news from Miami, where the school board has always been unthinking imo:

The school board’s original criteria said that anyone with a criminal record. . . could not be hired as an employee or work on school grounds. Many crimes on the list involved children, such as child abuse, but other offenses include drug possession, aggravated assault and battery.

The new rules, which no longer include offenses such as arson, extortion and aggravated assault and battery, will bring Miami-Dade’s policy more in line with neighboring counties, such as Monroe County, which screens only for crimes against children, rape and murder, and Broward County, which has an extensive appeals process.

Thursday, the board began sending out letters to 480 workers who had been flagged because of the old rules, notifying them of the changes . . .
”It was really good to see the School Board come to their senses,” said cable repairman Marshall Morton, 38, who watched the proceedings on television from home. He said soon after the vote, workers began calling each other to share the news.

Come to their SENSES?? Who? Where? There’s no sense in any of this.
Save yourselves and your children. Forget about the relentless stampedes toward the edge of every cliff in sight, the bazillion bad forced choices set up by enraged activists poking each other with sharp sticks, all to be “decided” by public opinion. Think things through for yourself, and do the best you can to help your children master this one skill.
Even under Florida rule, whether or not they go to school, even though you feel a fool — just do it.


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25 03 2007
misedjj

From the local Sunday Democrat, a first-person opinion piece by the exec of the museum about what SHE is learning from this exhibit, and what we all can learn (including the quarter-million AOL respondents?):

Originally published March 25, 2007
“Art can’t be an insult to anyone”
By Chucha Barber
MY VIEW

On March 16, some of you brought your children to The Brogan Museum to enjoy our first day of spring camp. The fact that members of this community entrust us with their children is of paramount importance.

On that same day, members of the capital press corps arrived at The Brogan to report on one organization’s desire to remove one artist’s work from our galleries. During the nine years I have been at The Brogan Museum, none of the hundreds of artists who have been featured (including Monet and Picasso) have ever caused the eyes of the community (indeed the world) to be so focused on The Brogan as has John Sims and his work, “AfroProvocations.”

I am certain that our nation’s first amendment rights give artists the privilege to express themselves – in all manners. Art has served as a cultural reflection of the times, for all times.

What does the reaction to the work of John Sims say about our community? Are we intolerant of other’s views or will we embrace the opportunity to share our perspectives?

I wonder how my role as a “catalyst” for the Knight-Ridder Creative Community Initiative can best be served as a result of these experiences. It is the intent of both The Brogan and the KCCI to lay a positive foundation for our community’s future. That effort will thrive with dialogue among people of different perspectives.

Please see the exhibition AfroProvocations and talk to your friends about it. Talk to your children about it. Talk to me about it. When we talk, we will discover what we have in common. Like it or not, we have much in common and it is that commonality that is humanity.

As of this moment, there have been thousands of e-mails and phone calls to The Brogan Museum about the exhibit. An AOL survey has received more than 247,000 responses. Clearly, people do want to talk about this. To create further opportunities for that dialogue on Tuesday we launched a new blog on The Brogan’s Website. To participate, go to http://www.thebrogan.org and then click on “The John Sims Exhibit Controversy” link.

In addition, by April 1, The Brogan will add exhibit materials that will include a most respectful history of the Confederate Flag. Some individuals who have called to protest the current exhibit have referred to our use of “Stars and Bars.” Actually, the flag referred to as “Stars and Bars” was the first official flag of the Confederacy, and the flag used in Mr. Sims’ work was the battle flag.

There is clearly some misconception about flags of the Confederacy, and this is a great opportunity to work with representatives of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans, The Florida History Museum, staff at our local institutions of higher education and our fellow members of the Florida Association of Museums to assist with efforts to promote accurate information and increased understanding.

(It should be noted that we are not a history museum but the escalating interest in the subject warrants our divergence from our routine disciplines of focus).

I can’t help but wonder if members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans would be surprised if I shared with them a photo of an ancestor in a Confederate uniform?

My point is that no art – not even the work of John Sims – is an insult to anyone. It’s not about you or your ancestors. It’s certainly not about me. John Sims’ art is about the artist’s perspective. If his art stirred you, created emotion within you, it did exactly what art is meant to do.

Chucha Barber is executive director of The Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science. Contact her at cbarber@thebrogan.org.

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