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Commentary :: Media
'Open Casket' Emmett Till - Should This Painting be Destroyed?
30 Mar 2017
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Open Casket.jpg
Open Casket
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Open Casket 2.jpg
Philandro Castillo
It turns out that this issue is too politically volatile to give perspective on. Y’know, I just wanted to engage people in a discussion, and share some ideas I’ve thought a lot about, and which I thought were also a positive way forward. I didn’t intend to be in a war with extremists. I had to delete my post because of harassment from a radical, separatist, hate group. It’s just not worth sharing my views – which are the opposite of extremist or ideological, and thus an antidote – if it is going to make me a target of ideological, extremist, hate.

I haven’t let myself be silenced, really, or I wouldn’t be posting this. Now I’m saying that I can’t even talk about this issue, that’s how ridiculous people are being. Here I’m talking around it, and not touching on the specific trigger issues that make people go ballistic. I would also clarify that I don’t really say this is about censorship, for me, because that’s an alt-right argument, which is a bit of a red herring, because usually it is not the right to free speech that is objected to at all, but rather the very specific content of that speech. This makes any criticism of the most heinous speech automatically wrong, because it is instantly classified as an argument against free speech, which we mostly all agree we should have a right to. I was more interested in the actual content of the free speech and the criticisms thereof.

It’s possible the threat was just somebody trying to impersonate such a group, but I don’t want to deal with those types of individuals either, which would most likely be people on the opposite side of the spectrum of hate, as they are also in the game of escalating hatred. However, considering how many hate groups there are in America – 892 and counting, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center – it’s probably legit. [See Wikipedia on hate groups here.]

Incidentally, these hate groups come in all flavors, their shared characteristic being “beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.” While we generally think of these as white racist and separatist groups, of which there are plenty, the list does also include a formidable 180 black separatist hate groups. Anti-LGBTQ and anti-Muslim groups are “in” this season. Note that in the last few years, the number of hate groups has escalated. Most people recognize they are losing chances of opportunity, security, and prosperity, and not only looking for a scapegoat, but perhaps stealthily encouraged to do so by those who might actually be accountable for the state of whole economies, the destruction of the environment, and large scale war…

I don’t want anything to do with hate and supremacist groups, and that means ALL of them, and their rhetoric. I don’t want anything to do with perpetuating hate or retaliating against it. I also don’t want to see art destroyed. You can hold those two positions simultaneously. We could have had a constructive conversation about the ethics involved, even a friendly discussion.

I’m deliberately being vague about who was behind the harassment, or threat, because I don’t want to get involved with, or give ammunition to, any of the extremists on this issue, whatever narrative they are peddling. There are people who see other groups of people as automatically the enemy, and as “other”. It seems a natural enough component of human psychology to define ourselves “against” others. I don’t believe in this, but rather that this mentality is itself the real enemy. People who think they’ve awoken when they figured out who the evil “other” is, and go around telling people to wake up, are having a nightmare and trying to ensnare other people into it. You are dehumanizing people. There is no “other”.

Suffice it to say that I think the polarization of people that is happening in America right now is a tragedy. I also believe it is a media-driven, click-driven, escalating, self-fulfilling prophecy, and people should be smart and honest enough to not take the click-bait.

I’m an anti-hate, anti-violence, anti-racism, anti-extremism, anti-essentialist, peace-loving artist. I want nothing to do with any ideological wars. All the radical, extremist, ideologues itching for violence need to grow up, and look in the mirror. When you look in the mirror you will see your enemy: and when you look at the enemy you will see yourself. [Nah, that’s not a quote. I just made it up.]

That might sound almost religious, and yet, those who most deny it are often part of a religious group. This dude I used to work with in a warehouse, and who I thought was a bit of a tough guy, and not so friendly, once said something that really impressed me, though he could have been quoting something he didn’t truly understand. Doubtless it’s a whopping cliche I just hadn’t heard before, but here ’tis: “religion is for people who are afraid of hell. Spirituality is for people who’ve been there”.

The understanding that there is no other doesn’t have to be spiritual either, not in some delusional, fantasy way. I can put together a philosophical argument with scientific evidence (brain/conscious science) to back it (that’ll be a separate post.). It’s just a matter of panning back. ns soIn brief, everyone has the same core sense of consciousness/being, which we consider our true identity, and the underlying field of being, which dwarfs everything else clouding it, is, factually going to be the same in all of us. When you look in someone else’s eyes, you are looking in your own. The person is your same core being slapped into another body, and another context. You just switched avatars in a video game. Deep down, you’re the same player struggling to survive. This doesn’t mean someone else’s mind can’t be corrupt (just as yours can, if you let it), and that their actions sometimes don’t need to be opposed (ex., using the atom bomb, or knowingly, willfully, destroying the environment for profit). It is those actions, and the underlying beliefs that are the enemy. You can never transfer beliefs from one body to another, and seek to punish that body for the corrupted mind of someone else.

You might find that if you chill out, the intolerable social heat outside gets a bit less oppressive, and there’s suddenly a cool breeze out of nowhere.

Instead of joining together to fight real corruption and abuse of power, many are looking for innocent victims to make symbolic sacrifices of. If I was in a particularly agitated mood, I might suggest that hate groups square off against each other instead of going after innocent bystanders, but, that is encouraging a conflagration which could only make matters worse.

The new enemy is each other, in a new climate of “hate thy neighbor”. If this keeps up, the result will be that the working class and the poor will be duped into destroying each other and themselves while those in positions of power, who are abusing that power, will laugh their way to the bank, having taken candy away from babies (which is not to say that we aren’t responsible for our own actions).

Jessie Jackson famously said, “Keep hope alive”. Now people are saying, “Keep hate alive”. Maybe I’m just being nostalgic, but I prefer the older message.

Don’t forget to treat others as well as you should treat yourself, and treat yourself as well as you should treat others.

This work is in the public domain
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