Cheyenne/Arapaho artist Brent Learned is coming straight at a double standard that has been a burr under his saddle from 17 years ago, when an artistic gatekeeper asserted but could not explain why settler artists could paint nudes and be called “classic” but indigenous artists could not. All these years later, Learned has organized a show called Native America Body of Art, running through July at Shakespeare in the Park Gallery in Oklahoma City.
Native Times quoted the artist, “The title alone tells you what it is going to be. I think it’s going to be one of those shows that’s going to be groundbreaking and people are going to come just to see people from different tribes express themselves in a way that’s never been done before.”
From the media coverage so far, it appears that artistic piety defending nude art really means female nudity, but we won’t know if indigenous artists are taking that path until the show opens. If they are, the path does not speak to the quality of the art—merely the quality of the rationalizations, as we move toward a time when the human body as subject or as symbol needs no defense.
My cousin Ray Sixkiller wished the show every success, but he was concerned that “everybody here in the buckle of the Bible Belt knows that human beings are born fully clothed and will go to Hell if they don’t remain that way.”
Government by Jesus also poked into the story of the Golden-cheeked warbler, a tiny yellow bird that breeds nowhere but in Central Texas and only on land where it can pretend there are no human beings. The warbler has been in Texas longer than humans, but the bird has been a little yellow thorn in the side of real estate developers, because it’s protected by the Endangered Species Act.
I remember a Baptist minister preaching that extinction is God’s will and the warbler is “just another species whose number is up.”
With a real estate developer in the White House and state government in Republican hands, the Texas General Land Office is teaming up with the Texas Public Policy Foundation to stage a frontal assault on the Endangered Species Act, catching the Golden-cheeked warbler in the crossfire.
Cousin Ray muttered about climate change denial and wondered what they would say when H. sapiens is “just another species whose number is up.”
The Center for Biological Diversity reported that the Trump administration plans to revoke government protection for grizzly bears, opening the way for trophy hunting in Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho.
NBC reported on the overpopulation of wild horses on Bureau of Land Management property. Ranchers do not want to compete with the horses for grazing, a hardy group of horse advocates wants to protect them with (among other ideas) birth control darts, but the Trump administration plans to solve the problem by legalizing sale of wild horses for slaughter.
Enough websites ran this report to call it viral. When not giving birth herself, Dara Crouch of Columbus, Georgia, worked as a labor and delivery room nurse, so naturally her own birthing process would be uneventful.
It depends on what you mean by “uneventful.”
Crouch’s expression of shock and surprise that went viral was rooted in her family history. Crouch, 29, was already the mother of one daughter and in this pregnancy she did not bother with ultrasound, since no woman in her family had given birth to a boy in more than 50 years.
The photos of his mother’s reaction will probably follow newborn Liam Crouch for the rest of his life.
KXAN reported that Austin Police, responding to a report of a car crash with a woman pinned in her car, found Regina Barnes, 45, had apparently crashed into two parked cars before coming to a stop on the sidewalk.
Barnes was not hurt or pinned in, but rather busy sucking on a crack pipe. She told them to wait because, “I just want to smoke my last rock.”
They took her to a hospital for examination, where she tried to destroy the crack pipe and got in a fight with the police over control of it. She was charged with possession of a controlled substance, resisting arrest, and tampering with evidence.
Cousin Ray commented, “I always heard that stuff will affect your judgment.”
In another instance of judgment causing blowback, Foreign Policy reported that Detainee #001 in the global war on terror, John Walker Lindh, is about to be released from prison, the first of several individuals convicted of terrorism offenses to have gotten his time served.
He was 19 years old when he was taken into custody in Afghanistan and dubbed by the media “the American Taliban.” He is now 36 years old and scheduled to be released in two years.
Lindh’s lawyers were able to get him a plea bargain that upset people who did not understand the reason. Lindh was in custody at Mazar-i-Sharif when the prisoners staged a revolt in which some 500 people died, including CIA Officer Michael Spann. Lindh was shot, but was still among the 86 survivors.
In subsequent detention, he was blindfolded, naked, and bound to a stretcher with duct tape. He was hidden from the attorney retained by his parents for a month.
Lindh was the very first war on terror defendant to go to trial at a time when public opinion favored charging him with treason and going for the death penalty. He got a deal because he was prepared to prove mistreatment while in custody that would have gotten his statements tossed out of court and let the torture cat out of the political bag.
Now he wishes to go to Ireland, where he holds dual citizenship. He needs legal help to convince Ireland to take him, but he has been fired by his lawyer, who has refused to represent him unless he publicly and sincerely renounces violence, something Lindh is not prepared to do.
After applications that are now in double digits, the SCOTUS has finally agreed to take the infamous gay wedding cake dispute. I’m an old-fashioned lawyer and it’s hard for me to see a live issue in an ordinary public accommodations case.
You have a right to be against gay marriage or even to hate gay people. You don’t have a right to bake cakes for sale to the public. Your bakery can be required to serve all the public as a condition of doing business.
I am the offspring of a mixed marriage between an Indian and a white settler. Within my lifetime, my parents’ marriage was illegal in many states. All those laws went away in 1967, but when they were enacted public opinion was that interracial marriage was wrong according to both science and religion.
My parents could marry in any state now and they could buy a wedding cake at any bakery that holds itself out to be serving the public—regardless of what the baker might think about interracial marriage. This is a legal slam dunk.
“If it’s so easy and the Court only has room for a few cases,” Cousin Ray asked, “why would the SCOTUS take the cake?”
The New York Times reported from Kentucky, where Sen. Mitch McConnell is trail bossing the legislation to slash Medicaid and Sen. Rand Paul opposes the bill President Trump called “mean” because it does not cut deeply enough and quickly enough. People without health insurance in Kentucky went from 18.8 percent before Obamacare to 6.8 percent after.
The Times interviewed people who were unaware who was doing what to whom and sincerely believed they did not get health insurance from the first black POTUS but rather from the Health Care Fairy.
Asked if McConnell could get Senate Republicans behind his meanness before the July 4th recess, Arizona Sen. John McCain replied, “Pigs could fly.” The practical problem is that passing the Senate requires working with Democrats but the House takes working with Democrats as evidence of heresy.
It is no great surprise that Ivanka Trump gave an interview to Fox News, but something she said en passant was provoking hysterical laughter. Against nepotism rules and repeatedly cutting ethical corners to build her brand, she has an office in the West Wing and is often described in the media as “top advisor” to the POTUS. Still, she told Fox:
I try to stay out of politics.
“Pigs could fly,” Cousin Ray snickered.
In one more piece of Jesus news, The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Michael Tate Reed, 32, of Van Buren, Arkansas allegedly smacked a motor vehicle into a 6,000-pound granite Ten Commandments monument and shattered it less than 24 hours after it was erected at the Arkansas capital.
Reed was identified as the same individual who smashed a similar display on the Oklahoma capital grounds in 2014.
Taking a line from Braveheart, Reed was heard to yell “Freedom!” as he crashed.
Supporters of the monotheistic patriarchal desert cult attacked by Reed expect that the monument will be rebuilt quickly.
There’s a bit less freedom for the Satanic Temple, which has so far been denied the opportunity to raise a competing statute of Baphonet, a supernatural being with a goat’s head and an angel’s wings.
No claim is raised yet on behalf of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which in a free country would be installing a sacred colander.
Johnny Depp got in some trouble at a music festival for asking, “When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?”
Depp hastened to add, “I’m not an actor.”
“That’s OK,” said Cousin Ray, “Trump’s not a president.”