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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Je suis France

The 'controversial' street art that earned Combo a beating.
On Monday I wrote about the responsibility of artists to tell the truth. In the United States, we are reasonably safe from persecution, but that isn’t the case in France. Last month 17 people were assassinated and 22 wounded in a series of terroristic attacks that were putatively in response to cartoons critical of the prophet Muhammad.  

Compared to the staff of Charlie Hebdo, the street artist known as Combo got off easy. Le Monde reports that four young toughs asked the artist to remove an offensive piece of art last weekend. He refused and they beat him up.  Combo is a big fellow who learned boxing essentials from a younger brother, but he suffered a dislocated shoulder and other injuries sufficient to put his right arm in a sling—in essence, they were trying to silence his drawing hand.

On the other hand, the ‘offensive art’ he posted on a Paris street is, by our lights, soothing and safe. It is a riff on that ubiquitous Coexist bumper sticker that is plastered on Priuses all over America. His art consisted of a picture of himself dressed in a djellaba on a wall alongside the Coexist image.
Part of Combo's installation in Chernobyl.
Born in Amiens to a Lebanese Christian father and a Muslim Moroccan mother, Combo is the eldest in a family of four boys, of whom the younger have become more religious. “At first I thought I was French, but then I quickly realized that I was Arab. Now, I am told that I am a Muslim. This is the French disintegration,” he added.

Part of Combo's installation for the 2014 French election.
When Combo decided to leave for Beirut, his friends said, “You are a fool! What are you going to do, jihad?”

“I’m going to make jihad-art on the walls of Beirut,” he answered. “Less of Hamas, more of hummus.”

Combo refuses to speculate on the identity of those who assaulted him. “That would only add fuel to the fire. Of course I'm scared. But I said I was Charlie, and I still am.” And then he smiled. “Too bad for them that I am left-handed.”

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Martha said...

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker jumped to the front of the unimpressive GOP 2016 presidential pack thanks in large part to rave reviews for his speech at the conservative Iowa Freedom Summit late last month. But it turns out one of its most powerful moments was a lie.

Reagan’s fibs were manifold. They included his campaign-trail tale of a “Chicago welfare queen” with 80 aliases, 30 addresses, and 12 Social Security cards, whom he alleged had claimed “over $150,000″ in government benefits. The woman whom Reagan made infamous was convicted of using only two aliases, used to collect $8,000.
“A few months ago, I told the American people I did not trade arms for hostages,” Reagan said. “My heart and my best intentions still tell me that’s true, but the facts and the evidence tell me it is not.”

Reagan was never present at the camps’ liberation. Instead, he spent the war in Culver City, California, where he processed footage from the liberation of the camps.

These are only a tiny tip of the iceberg. We know that Global Warming is true no matter how many times Senator Inhofe tells us Barbara Streisand "made it up" - lying, propaganda, alternative agendas - call them what you will - but this method of "truthiness" is as old as human kind, and as old as politics.

We "know" there was no Angel Moroni - but millions of Mormons "know" different. We "know" a woman WILL get pregnant from rape - but there are thousands of people in America who "know" otherwise. We know George W Bush lost the "popular vote" - but the Supreme Court made him our President anyway.

What we know and what we "know" are never that easy.

Carol Douglas said...

What does that have to do with controversial art, though, Martha? Or are you responding to my earlier post?