Politically Correct Art

by | Feb 2, 2002

Several columnists, most notably David Limbaugh and Kathleen Parker, commented on some of its lunacy. Shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, photographer Tom Franklin of The Record newspaper in Bergen County, N.J., captured the images of New York City firefighters Dan McWilliams, George Johnson and Billy Eisengrein planting the American flag in the rubble […]

Several columnists, most notably David Limbaugh and Kathleen Parker, commented on some of its lunacy. Shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, photographer Tom Franklin of The Record newspaper in Bergen County, N.J., captured the images of New York City firefighters Dan McWilliams, George Johnson and Billy Eisengrein planting the American flag in the rubble of what was once the World Trade Center.

The scene, captured by Franklin’s camera, was to be reproduced as a 19-foot statue to be erected at the Fire Department’s Brooklyn headquarters to memorialize the 343 fire fighters who died in the attack.

You say, “Williams, what’s wrong with that?” It turns out that Dan McWilliams, George Johnson and Billy Eisengrein are white guys.

“So what, Williams?” you shout. “Facts are facts, history is history, and a photograph is a photograph.” That’s where you’re wrong. Sometimes facts, history and photographs are not politically correct and must be changed.

The New York Fire Department, the studio making the statue and the company that owns the department’s headquarters decided to alter the statue, making it politically correct. The statue would portray one white, one black and one Hispanic fireman raising the flag. That, race experts say, better reflects the ethnicity of New York’s 11,500 person fire department, of which 2.7 percent are black, 3.2 percent Hispanic and the other 90-some percent white.

Fire Department spokesman Frank Gribbon explains, “Given that those who died were of all races and all ethnicities, and that the statue was to be symbolic of those sacrifices, ultimately a decision was made to honor no one in particular, but everyone who made the supreme sacrifice.” Kevin James, a black firefighter, said: “The symbolism is far more important than representing the actual people. I think the artistic expression of diversity would supersede any concern over factual correctness.”

Suppose it were three black firefighters raising the flag at Ground Zero. Dropping off two in the name of diversity would have brought in the frothing of the likes of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.

Facts and history are nowhere nearly as important to diversity-multiculturalists as symbolism, but if it’s symbolism that New Yorkers want, why not go all the way? Here’s my suggestion for “the artistic expression of diversity.” Having one black, one white and one Hispanic man is a good start, but not enough. I know FDNY obeys the Americans With Disabilities Act, so the statue should include persons in wheelchairs from each ethnic group.

I would imagine that FDNY also obeys equal opportunity laws. There can’t be sex discrimination. That means firewomen must become part of the “artistic expression of diversity” — and it can’t just be some white woman, it must include one black and one Hispanic woman. A true and complete commitment to the “artistic expression of diversity” requires that the statue include homosexual and lesbian firefighters.

The nation’s diversity-multiculturalists have other statue correction work to do, so as to promote the “artistic expression of diversity.” Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Joe Rosenthal captured the image of five Marines and a Navy corpsman raising our flag on Mt. Suribachi, Iwo Jima, during World War II. The statue created from his photo consists of five white men but only one diversity guy — Ira Hayes, a Pima Indian. Since diversity trumps historical accuracy and facts, diversity-multiculturalists ought to demand that the Arlington, Va., memorial statue be reconfigured to include all races that fought in World War II.

There’s no end to the work for diversity-multiculturalists, so long as the rest of us remain timid idiots unwilling to stand up to their vicious nonsense.

Walter Williams (March 31, 1936 – December 1, 2020) was an American economist, commentator, academic, and columnist at Capitalism Magazine. He was the John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics at George Mason University, and a syndicated editorialist for Creator's Syndicate. He is author of Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?, and numerous other works.

The views expressed above represent those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the editors and publishers of Capitalism Magazine. Capitalism Magazine sometimes publishes articles we disagree with because we think the article provides information, or a contrasting point of view, that may be of value to our readers.

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