A “white supremacist” organized exhibits for the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art for nearly 20 years? How did his hateful bigotry go undetected for so long in a city whose vanity is in large part fueled by its Wokeness?
Gary Garrels, the museum’s senior curator of painting and sculpture, resigned earlier this month over statements that are no longer acceptable in America. According to artnet News, Garrels’ sin was closing a presentation about new acquisitions from artists of color by assuring staff members that they shouldn’t worry, because “we will definitely still continue to collect white artists.”
He further sinned against the Church of Wokeness when he said it would be “reverse discrimination” if the museum stopped collecting from white artists.
Waiting for more? For newly discovered tweets of the white Garrels raging against people of color? For consorting with known racists? For the sudden appearance of a grainy decades-old video in which he argued white artists are superior to all others?
If so, it will be a long wait. No one is saying he is guilty of any of these or committed any genuine racist act. He uttered a matter-of-fact statement, which is both on its face true (would it not be discrimination if the museum excluded minority art?) and harmless.
Yet he was forced out, his reputation tarnished after a group of former employees started a petition demanding his “non-negotiable” removal. In asking “just how long have his toxic white supremacist beliefs regarding race and equity directed his position curating the content of the museum?” those who introduced the petition and everyone who signed it in solidarity with them smeared the man.
Garrels’ resignation-by-mob was not about fostering decency in the art community. It had nothing to do with making the museum a better place to work or upgrading its exhibits and visitor experience. It has no societal benefits, nor will it improve the lives of those he supposedly marginalized.
But it gave the blood-lust pack that took him down a chance to bully someone, a moment to have power over another person, an occasion to show off their woker-than-thou moral standard. It’s not every day we get to read that “reverse discrimination” is “white supremacist and racist language.” But the zealots who pushed Garrels into surrendering surely relished making sure that yet another benign term or phrase has been added to the list of “gotcha” words.
This event was no storm but a tempest in the tiniest of teacups. As of July 17, 10 days after the meeting in which Garrels had slipped up and spoke an obvious but unspeakable truth, only 273 had signed the petition.
But even that small number is misleading. Many signed just so they could make a comment about how outrageous the entire affair is. One, who clearly is familiar with the history of radical movements and revolutions inevitably devouring their own, warned the Woke signers that “the mob will come for you, too, eventually.”
It’s too bad for Garrels and other innocent victims of the cancel culture that it hasn’t consumed itself already.
Kerry Jackson is a fellow with the Center for California Reform at the Pacific Research Institute.