In early May, RedState’s Sister Toldjah covered the controversy surrounding two George Washington murals at a high school in San Francisco. The images of America’s first president were reportedly leaving black and American Indian students “traumatized.”
Well, now the San Francisco Unified School District’s figuring out how much it’ll cost to cover up the horrifying images, so as to spare students from devastating emotional damage.
And sparin’ ’em ain’t cheap: Reason Magazine reports the school system will meet next week to discuss three options for ruining — I mean, accomplishing justice about — “The Life of Washington” series.
1) Paint over it for $600,000
2) Hide it behind paneling for $875,000
3) Hide it behind curtains for $300,000
Government at work, ladies and gentlemen.
Hold on a sec…
Dear San Francisco,
I’ll gladly cover the mural for the cost of Walmart spray paint plus my fee of only $275,000.
$600,000 could could be used to do a lot of things.
But, apparently, the school board has no choice.
The art series — which was painted by Russian-Armenia Victor Arnautoff in 1936 — was actually meant to illustrate history as messy. Therefore, it portrays George working his slaves and sending out men to take control of Indian lands.
And that ain’t gettin’ it with 2019.
A group of students, educators and artists is recommending a mural depicting scenes in the life of George Washington be removed from a San Francisco high school that bears his name because it doesn’t represent the school’s values.https://t.co/cu4FAHMC61
— Abrome Education (@AbromeEd) May 18, 2019
The school district put together a group called the Reflection and Action Group to preside over the issue, and here’s what they determined:
“We come to these recommendations due to the continued historical and current trauma of Native Americans and African Americans with these depictions in the mural that glorifies slavery, genocide, colonization, manifest destiny, white supremacy, oppression, etc. This mural doesn’t represent SFUSD values of social justice, diversity, united, student-centered. It’s not student-centered if it’s focused on the legacy of artists, rather than the experience of the students. If we consider the SFUSD equity definition, the “low” mural glorifies oppression instead of eliminating it. It also perpetuates bias through stereotypes rather than ending bias. It has nothing to do with equity or inclusion at all. The impact of this mural is greater than its intent ever was. It’s not a counter-narrative if [the mural] traumatizes students and community members.”
So…history is too traumatic for…people who are, presumably, taking classes in history?
Don’t worry, though: Social justice is eduction’s Job 1.
To be fair, the paintings do indeed show an Indian man on the ground, as though trampled by white men taking his land. And there is certainly a depiction of slavery.
San Francisco High school could remove a 1936 mural of George Washington because of 'traumatizing' pictures of slaves https://t.co/ZOh9sI5yXY
— Daily Mail US (@DailyMail) May 3, 2019
But should they be destroyed? Are they worthy reminders of our past?
The series, it should be noted, has definite artistic worth:
When Arnautoff created the George Washington mural series, he used the rare buon fresco process, painting with earth-tone pigments directly onto the building’s wet plaster before it dried. The artist covered about nine feet of wall per day, and worked ten to twelve hours per day.
“Mr. Arnautoff had to follow right behind the plasterers, and a scene, once begun, had to be completed that same day, in order that the walls did not dry. Carpenters and plasterers worked all around the building, while Mr. Arnautoff was above on a scaffold,” according to outsidelands.org.
It took ten months to complete the mural series. At the time of its completion, Arnautoff’s George Washington murals were the largest WPA-funded, single-artist mural suite on the Pacific Coast.
For many years in American schools, students were told to sit down and shut up and obey the rules. These days, schools are “student-centered.”
Are we better off? Personally, the mural issue aside, I think not.
Either way, students in San Fran have an even bigger problem: The school where the ghastly murals must be destroyed is called George Washington High School.
Maybe they shoulda started with the name.
Oh — and in case you’re stumped by the price tag, here’s an explanation from Reason:
[I]f you’re wondering why it would cost several hundred thousand dollars to get rid of the [murals], here’s your answer: Officials are required to conduct environmental impact reports before they take any action.
Just nine years ago, by the way, the SF Arts Commission and SF Museum of Modern Art were working to restore the murals.
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