So Glenn Beck and Michael Kimmelman Walk Into a Bar…

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…and Michael Kimmelman, the New York Times’ chief art critic, would probably ask the bartender to play this clip, below, on the overhead TV, and would turn to Beck’s preening face and laugh his head off:

Story continues below.



And this, dear reader, bring me to a great post by Tyler Green on his blog, Modern Art Notes. The title of the post is Glenn Beck debuts as Fox News art critic, and clearly we now have more evidence why a few dozen companies have insisted their advertising be removed from this imbecile’s show.

Not that this needs to be said, but Beck is a menace to society whose removal from it would, to quote the birthers, go a long way toward validating Thomas Jefferson’s quote about the tree of liberty being refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. Of course, the birthers almost always omit the sentence that followed that sentence: “It is its natural manure.” And so it goes with Beck. But more than that, I would argue that his presence on the airwaves is astonishing, even for the extreme right-wing. As a demogogue, he’s like the illegitimate hate-child of Father Charles Coughlin, Senator Huey Long and Anita Bryant, and has earned the right to experience something like this, at least:

I believe we are witnessing one the most comprehensive takedowns of a media figure in quite some time. What’s going on here, in other words, is more than public pressure on companies to withdraw their ads — remember, Glenn Beck is just about advocating and attempting to incite the murder of the President of the United States — it’s the stiffening of reaction to the right-wing’s increasing paranoia and hysterics. It’s more than lying — it’s outright incitement to murder and violence and, God forbid, assassination. But hey, blood drips through Republican fingers anyway.

But back to Green, who offers these two nifty paragraphs:

Beck opened the segment by arguing that a 1937 Carl Paul Jennewein intaglio carving, Industry and Agriculture, was “communist” art because one figure is holding a longhammer and because the other is holding an agrarian tool, a sickle. Beck went on to imply that because an unnamed Rockefeller had put the Jennewein there, that Rockefeller was a commie symp.

Not quite. The sickle and the hammer have been used separately to signify agrarian interests and workmen or craftsmen in art respectively since at least the Byzantine period. In the 19th and 20th centuries the hammer and sickle were often fused in a range of European symbology, in both provincial heraldry and in state insignia. It wasn’t until 1922 that the Red Army adopted them as a state symbol. (It became the Soviet state symbol in 1923.)

Is Beck insinuating that he knows more about the history of the hammer and sickle than, say, Tyler Green?

Meantime, Green also helpfully leads readers to another response — this one from Jerry Saltz, the art critic from New York magazine, who has issued this challenge directly to Glenn Beck (you can read the full text here):

A large gallery or museum should ask Glenn Beck to curate two shows this season (he would be free to ask other associates at Fox News to assist).

  • The first: Images of art in NYC, or actual works, that he would like to see demolished; and
  • The second: A show of CONTEMPORARY art that he approves of.
  • Needless to say, what just as clear as everything else is that this is really about the unending pissing match between MSNBC and Fox. And Beck is an extraordinary good lapdog.

    Here, for your delectation, is Time magazine’s take on this, the take of the Los Angeles Times and the take of the Christian Science Monitor.

    Of course, one question remains: Where is the Times? Should it respond? Discuss.