The Guardian has a poll on its site:
The consequences of Qur’an burning: Ten UN staff have been killed in a violent protest in Afghanistan against the burning of a copy of the Qur’an by a Christian fundamentalist pastor in Florida last week. Do you consider him morally responsible for these deaths?
To which I would like to propose another poll. Which of these two works of art being exhibited in Los Angeles art gallery has the greatest artistic merit?
The R&R Gallery is celebrating it’s very first trip around the sun with a salute to The Man. That’s right, we’re pulling out the big guns…it’s The JESUS SHOW. Whether you’re a believer or an unrepentant sinner, come out and give props to the O.G. Badass. We may not be turning water into wine, but we’ll be trying our damndest, with original works by some of the finest of God’s children. Holy Shit.
There’s a bunch of choice. But we’ve got Sarah Palin crucified.
And then there’s Monkey Jesus. And there’s more.
But if we leave the choices to these two, which is nicer?
The Guardian poll is a story within a story within a story. Terry Jones burns a Koran. Some people in Afghanistan kill and behead UN workers who had nothing to do with Terry Jones. The Guardian sits in judgment — not on the killers in Afghanistan, but of Terry Jones, but not because they care whit for any of the first two stories but because they want to create some kind of talking point upon which to sit moral judgment of a fourth party, as yet unnamed though you can guess who it might be.
Personally I prefer the Monkey Jesus. There’s a certain direct quality to the painting which is refreshing. Jesus was an ape! At least there’s a sentiment that isn’t couched in code. In the painting, there is none of this nonsense about “civil discourse”; there’s none of the implied sarcasm of “crazy birthers” or the sly innuendo of “teabaggers”. There’s not even the hokey of “responsibility to protect”. Just is a Jesus is a monkey. It transparently says what it wants to say and there you go.
But it’s accidental honesty, not intentional candor. Candor, Peggy Noonan once said, “implies equality”. Since neither the Guardian nor the artists at the LA exhibition are likely to consider themselves in a relation of equality vis a vis those they sit in judgment on, we have to decode what they say for what it is. It’s jibe, couched for safety’s sake, as reference. Passed as pointer, if you will, just in case the retarded butts of the joke notice. But the thing about equal regard, or its opposite, contempt, is that the current runs in both directions.
The feeling eventually becomes mutual.
What then to make of the schedule of forces reflecting NATO Operation “Unified Protector”, under a Canadian General Charles Bouchard? Of the total 206 aircraft alloted to the operation, 90 are provided by the United States and the balance is divided between 13 other NATO countries. When President Obama said he was transferring the burden to Europe, was that he meant? The British have a wonderful expression: too clever by half. It means ‘to be too confident of your own intelligence in a way that annoys other people’, which when you think about it, isn’t really very smart.