In FrontPage this morning I discuss an appalling art exhibit in Milan, and its implications (many news links in the original):
A disgraceful art exhibit in Milan has illustrated once again the deep affinity between the Left and the forces of the global jihad. In these days of Muslims the world over calling for the deaths of those who have “insulted Islam,” anyone who wants to see Oriana Fallaci beheaded need look no further than the Galleria Luciano Inga-Pin in Milan, which is exhibiting Giuseppe Veneziano’s “American Beauty” from January 19 through March 18. This is a series of paintings designed to highlight the “weakness and perversity of the ‘American way of life.’” It accordingly features straightforward, if somewhat lurid, portraits of Michael Jackson and Ronald McDonald, along with the distinctly non-American Harry Potter. Then comes a bizarre depiction of a nude man having sexual intercourse with the Pink Panther, five artistic renditions of the Abu Ghraib prison photos (each with “American Beauty” scrawled across the top), and — Oriana Fallaci’s decapitated head.
Although I find the picture of Fallaci decapitated deeply offensive, I have no plans to attack the Italian embassy, boycott Italian wine, phone in a bomb threat to the Galleria Luciano Inga-Pin, kill innocent people who had nothing to with the painting, or threaten to kill those who are actually responsible for it. Veneziano’s painting is the sort of obnoxiousness that has become commonplace on the Left, and is one of the prices of freedom of speech.
Veneziano’s painting is doubly offensive, however, in light of the fact that Fallaci herself has been driven out of Italy by frivolous charges that she has “defamed Islam.” Giuseppe Veneziano is not on trial for depicting Fallaci decapitated, but Fallaci faces trial for making a series of heated but largely true statements about Islam and Muslims. Veneziano’s painting is triply offensive in that it depicts exactly what the Muslim exponents of cartoon rage around the world would like to see done to Fallaci — and thus manifests the ever-closer empathy between the Western Left and Islamic jihad. “Behead those who insult Islam,” read a sign at a recent demonstration in London protesting the Danish cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammad. If Fallaci has insulted Islam with her monumental post-9/11 cries of freedom and resistance, The Rage and the Pride and The Force of Reason, Giuseppe Veneziano is happy to oblige the mujahedin, at least on canvas.
In 2006 in Milan the prospect of Fallaci decapitata evokes not so much the iconic Leftist images of the Bastille, Robespierre, and the Terror, but Daniel Pearl, Nick Berg, and the Jihad — particularly in light of the subject matter that has earned the great lady so many enemies in Italy and around the world. This should come as no surprise. Both the Left and the mujahedin envision a totalitarian state that cleanses the world of evil by force, establishing a just society at the price of an unspecified number of dead. Both are advocates of a supremacist ideology that is immune to self-criticism and unable to tolerate criticism from others. And now as the European Union contemplates new laws that will, in the words of Franco Frattini, who bears the Orwellian designation of EU Commissioner for Justice, Freedom, and Security, “give the Muslim world the message: We are aware of the consequences of exercising the right of free expression,” the marriage of the European Left and Islamic jihad can proceed all the more speedily. Frattini has since denied that the EU has any such plans, but there can be no denying that voices all over the West have called for the media to exercise “responsible self-regulation” so as to avoid trampling upon Muslim sensibilities. But Muslim sensibilities only: those who depict Fallaci beheaded, or Jesus Christ with the face of Osama bin Laden, will continue to be subject to the same protections enunciated by Josh Wainwright, the producer of the art show that featured the Christ/Osama painting: “I don’t think it’s anyone’s job or vocation to limit the expression of artists.” Right. Except cartoon artists, of course. Or at least those who have the temerity to suggest that there might be some connection between violent actions done by Islamic jihadists and the Prophet who said that “Paradise is under the shades of swords.”
Fallaci decapitata may therefore end up being something far beyond what Giuseppe Veneziano intended, which doesn’t seem to have been more than an adolescent poke-in-the-eye to someone the Left hates and fears. His painting is a fitting emblem for the new Europe, the Europe in which the Swedish government closed down a political party’s website for displaying the cartoons of Muhammad, the Norwegian editor who ran the cartoons abjectly apologized, and European companies doing business in the Middle East can’t dissociate themselves quickly enough from Denmark and the cartoons of shame. This is the New Europe, the New Dhimmi Europe, the Europe that is eager to “give the Muslim world the message: We are aware of the consequences of exercising the right of free expression.”
Oh, Europe is already well aware of those consequences. The consequences are crystal clear in Giuseppe Veneziano’s painting of Oriana Fallaci’s severed head. Not enough of those in Europe who still have their heads seem willing to stand up to Islamic violence and intimidation long enough to allow the heroic lady to keep hers. All around the Continent the parliamentary heads of government are losing their heads trying to avoid offending Islam; all too soon they will realize that Fallaci’s head alone was not enough to appease their sworn enemies. Not nearly enough.