There’s been some discussion of a certain controversial painting of late. Interesting topic. James Lileks claims that a hypothetical “Self-Portrait of a Racial Cleanser” wouldn’t get the same treatment on campus. “The painting would be draped in a day.”
How quickly we forget. In 1998, Stephen Hunter trashed Tony Kaye’s American History X in the Washington Post. He called it “rank, repelling hypocrisy.” He accused it of allowing “its fantasy versions of American Nazis to spew their blackest, cruelest vomitus of hatred” while taking “energy and vitality (and ticket-selling notoriety) from the electricity of that hatred.”
These are the same objections Lileks levels at “Self Portrait of a Martyr.” He is simply wrong when he claims that his hypothetical skinhead painting would receive different treatment. We’ve seen that painting, and it drew the same sorts of objection. There’s no double standard here.