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Just 1/3 Jews in Mear One antisemitic Freedom mural LondonE1

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 14, 2021 11:58 am    Post subject: Just 1/3 Jews in Mear One antisemitic Freedom mural LondonE1 Reply with quote

A Look Back at Mear One’s ‘Freedom for Humanity’
https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/12/09/a-look-back-at-mear- one-freedom-for-humanity/

Daniel Lazare

December 9, 2020
Sometimes people are too quick to criticize, but other times they aren’t quick enough. A case in point is “Freedom for Humanity,” a mural that caused a fair-sized stir when an artist known as Mear One painted it on a London wall in 2012.

The problem? The work showed a group of capitalists sitting around an oversized Monopoly board resting on the bent backs of four naked men of various hues. With their mustaches, jowls, and protuberant noses, the half-dozen white men looked, well, a bit Semitic, and, indeed, Mear One revealed in an interview that two of the portraits were indeed of Jews, i.e. Lord Rothschild and Paul Warburg. (The others were John D. Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, Andrew Carnegie, and, for some reason, the writer and mystic Aleister Crowley.)

Charges flew that the painting was anti-Semitic because it equated Jews and exploitation, and the usual angry chorus arose. But then the fuss died down, and everyone moved on. And why not? People are busy, they’ve got other things on their mind, and, besides, who wants to get into a battle over something as explosive as anti-Semitism? As George Orwell once observed, “It is almost impossible to mention Jews in print, either favorably or unfavorably, without getting into trouble.” So people kept their heads low, and “Freedom for Humanity” was soon forgotten.

But now the incident seems like one of the seminal events of the early twenty-first century. The reason is that it turned out to enjoy a curious after-life. A half-dozen years later, a right-wing Labour Party member – yes, such things do exist – named Luciana Berger went gunning for the embattled leftists Jeremy Corbyn and discovered that he had been among those rising to Mear One’s defense. “You are in good company,” Corbyn tweeted the artist – in reality, an American named Kalen Ockerman – at the time. “Rockefeller destroyed Diego Viera’s mural because it includes a picture of Lenin.”

Actually, it was Diego Rivera, the Mexican muralist best known today as the husband of Frida Kahlo. But bungling an artist’s name is not what got Corbyn into trouble. Rather, it was failing to show requisite sensitivity to an aggrieved minority group. Berger and her supporters went into action, charging that Corbyn’s blasé approach was typical of a Labor Party riddled with anti-Semitism. Corbyn was suspended, and members were purged for the crime of “denialism,” i.e. arguing that the problem was not as extensive as Berger & Co. said it was. With party leaders warning that “thousands and thousands” would get the ax if they didn’t stop engaging in similar thought crimes, the mood was less London in the year 2020 than Moscow back in 1937 when the entire Old Bolshevik leadership found itself on the chopping block due to equally vague and paranoid charges.

From a scratch to the danger of gangrene, as Trotsky once said. But lost amid the sturm und drang was an all-important question. Was “Freedom for Humanity” really as bad as everyone said? Was it indeed the second coming of Mein Kampf or merely an honest and well-intended statement about human suffering in an age of runaway exploitation?

The answer is the latter, which is why the controversy deserves a second look.

Mear One’s painting is not a subtle work. But, then, neither was Diego Rivera’s Rockefeller Center mural, which he was able to recreate in Mexico City under the title, “Man, Controller of the Universe,” and which “Freedom for Humanity” vaguely resembles. But while both feature workers, decadent bourgeois, and industrial machinery, the tone is different. Where Rivera, good Marxist that he was, was fundamentally optimistic in his depiction of workers and peasants building a new society, Mear One is less concerned with the world to come than the world as it currently exists. Hence his images are glummer and more downbeat.

This may indicate a certain decline in political imagination from Rivera’s day. But that’s not the issue, of course. Rather, it’s whether the half-dozen portraits at its center are anti-Semitic. The answer is yes – if, that is, you assume that every jowly old white man with a protuberant nose is Jewish. But if that’s the case, then what about Jimmy Durante, a.k.a the Schnozz, born of Italian Catholic immigrants on New York’s Lower East Side? Or W.C. Fields, the offspring of impeccable Anglo-Saxon Protestant stock from small-town Pennsylvania, whose proboscis is equally as prominent?

Or the actor Robert Morley for that matter? Or Rembrandt? Since none are Jewish, the answer is therefore no. As for Warburg and Lord Rothschild, yes, they’re Jewish, but what of it? Are Mear One’s critics saying that no Jews are to be found in the ranks of the bourgeoisie? Are they calling for a strict quota system in which they can only be depicted in strict proportion to their membership? Or are they saying that artists must not depict reality at all, but must airbrush it so as to remove any and all images that someone, somewhere, might find offensive?

All of which is nonsense. “Freedom for Humanity” is not racist, and the entire episode was not about anti-Semitism, but about stirring up hysteria in order to whip people into line. After all, criticizing Israel is verboten as far as Anglo-American ruling elites are concerned. Since a way had to be found to silence dissidents, what hotter button could there be to push than that of anti-Semitism? The world has moved on since the days of Dachau and the Gulag, and methods of control are no longer as brutal. But they’re still effective nonetheless.

So if people had been quicker on the draw back in 2012, if they’d argued that anti-Semitism is too important to be tossed around in such a light-hearted way, then maybe demagogues wouldn’t have wound up with such a free hand. It’s vital to nip such tendencies in the bud before they turn into a full-scale witch hunt, which is precisely the case today.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.

Whitehall_Bin_Men wrote:
The sharks circling around Corbyn scent blood
Jonathan Cook: the Blog from Nazareth - www.jonathan-cook.net
https://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2018-03-26/the-sharks-circling-arou nd-corbyn-scent-blood/
26 March 2018
After a short reprieve following Jeremy Corbyn’s unexpected success in Britain’s general election last year, when he only narrowly lost the popular vote, most of the Labour parliamentary party are back, determined to bring him down. And once again, they are being joined by the corporate media in full battle cry.

Last week, Corbyn was a Soviet spy. This week we’re in more familiar territory, even if it has a new twist: Corbyn is not only a friend to anti-semites, it seems, but now he has been outed as a closet one himself.

In short, the Blairites in the parliamentary party are stepping up their game. Corbyn’s social justice agenda, his repudiation of neoconservative wars of aggression masquerading as “humanitarianism” – lining the coffers of the west’s military-industrial elites – is a genuine threat to those who run our societies from the shadows.

The knife of choice for the Labour backstabbers this time is a wall mural removed from East London in 2012. At that time, before he became Labour leader, Corbyn expressed support on Facebook for the artist, Kalen Ockerman, known as Mear One. Corbyn observed that a famous anti-capitalist mural by the left-wing Mexican artist Diego Rivera was similarly removed from Manhattan’s Rockefeller Centre in 1934.

Interestingly, the issue of Corbyn’s support for the mural – or at least the artist – originally flared in late 2015, when the Jewish Chronicle unearthed his Facebook post. Two things were noticeably different about the coverage then.

First, on that occasion, no one apart from the Jewish Chronicle appeared to show much interest in the issue. Its “scoop” was not followed up by the rest of the media. What is now supposedly a major scandal, one that raises questions about Corbyn’s fitness to be Labour leader, was a non-issue two years ago, when it first became known.

Second, the Jewish Chronicle, usually so ready to get exercised at the smallest possible sign of anti-semitism, wasn’t entirely convinced back in 2015 that the mural was anti-semitic. In fact, it suggested only that the mural might have “antisemitic undertones” – and attributed even that claim to Corbyn’s critics.

And rather than claiming, as the entire corporate media is now, that the mural depicted a cabal of Jewish bankers, the Chronicle then described the scene as “a group of businessmen and bankers sitting around a Monopoly-style board and counting money”. By contrast, the Guardian abandoned normal reporting conventions yesterday to state in its news – rather than comment – pages unequivocally that the mural was “obviously antisemitic”.

Not that anyone is listening now, but the artist himself, Kalen Ockerman, has said that the group in his mural comprised historical figures closely associated with banking. His mural, he says, was about “class and privilege”, and the figures depicted included both “Jewish and white Anglos”. The fact that he included famous bankers like the Rothschilds (Jewish) and the Rockefellers (not Jewish) does not, on the face of it, seem to confirm anti-semitism. They are simply the most prominent of the banking dynasties most people, myself included, could name. These families are about as closely identified with capitalism as it is possible to be.

There is an argument to be had about the responsibilities of artists – even street artists – to be careful in their visual representations. But Ockerman’s message was not a subtle or nuanced one. He was depicting class war, the war the capitalist class wages every day on the weak and poor. If Ockerman’s message is inflammatory, it is much less so than the reality of how our societies have been built on the backs and the suffering of the majority.

Corbyn has bowed to his critics – a mix of the Blairites within his party and Israel’s cheerleaders – and apologised for offering support to Ockerman, just as he has caved in to pressure each time the anti-semitism card has been played against him.

This may look like wise, or safe, politics to his advisers. But these critics have only two possible outcomes that will satisfy them. Either Corbyn is harried from the party leadership, or he is intimidated into diluting his platform into irrelevance – he becomes just another compromised politician catering to the interests of the 1 per cent.

The sharks circling around him will not ignore the scent of his bloodied wounds; rather, it will send them into a feeding frenzy. As hard as it is to do when the elites so clearly want him destroyed, Corbyn must find his backbone and start to stand his ground.

This piece in the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz by their senior columnnist Anshel Pfeffer sums up a lot of the sophistry (intentional or otherwise) underscoring the conflation of leftwing critiques of neoliberalism and globalism with rightwing ultra-nationalism and anti-semitism.

Pfeffer writes:

The conspiracy theories of globalist bankers utilizing mainstream media and corrupt neoliberal politicians to serve their selfish sinister purposes, rather than those of ordinary people, are identical whether from left or right.

And on either side, most of the theorists will never admit to being anti-Semitic. They are just “anti-racist” or “anti-imperialist” if on the left, or “pro-Israel” on the right. And most of them really believe they have nothing against Jews, even while parroting themes straight out of the Protocols [of the Elders of Zion].
Notice the problem here. If you are a radical leftist who believes, as generations of leftists before you have done, that military, political, media, and financial elites operate in the shadows to promote their interests, to wage class war, then not only are you a conspiracy theorist, according to Pfeffer, but you are by definition anti-semitic as well. If you believe that an Establishment or a Deep State exists to advance its interests against the great majority, you must hate Jews.

The logic of Corbyn’s critics has rarely been articulated so forthrightly and so preposterously as it is here by Pfeffer. But make no mistake, this is the logic of his critics.

No one pays me to write these blog posts. If you appreciated it, or any of the others, please consider hitting the donate button to the right.
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