It got ugly because the people pushing this vile, anti-law enforcement rhetoric are ugly, divisive people.
Last week, California Rep. Duncan Hunter removed a foul painting that depicted police officers as pigs. He had the painting delivered to the office of the Missouri Representative who had approved that it hang in the Capitol complex, Rep. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.).
As was mentioned earlier today, the Congressional Black Caucus made a big deal out of rehanging the disgusting painting back up, calling it a matter of free speech.
Presumably, because that sounds better than saying they’re a pile of ignorant racists, who despise police officers.
Their antics have ruffled the feathers of congressional Republicans, who want the matter dealt with.
Now, House Speaker Paul Ryan has gotten involved.
House Republicans complained during a closed-door meeting Tuesday that the painting, which Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) personally removed last week, was being rehung in the Cannon Office Building tunnel by Congressional Black Caucus members. Ryan, in response, assured his conference that the painting, which addresses strife between African-Americans and police in Ferguson, Mo., will be removed.
The painting, by a high school student from the district that encompasses Ferguson, shows police officers with animal heads and faces pointing guns at black citizens. It was selected as part of a competition that displays art projects in the Capitol.
Longtime Police Chief David Reichert (R-Wash.) is writing a letter to the Architect of the Capitol, pointing out that the painting does not meet the standards outlined in the rules of the U.S. Congressional Art Competition.
Those rules state that artwork may not be “sensationally divisive.”
I’d say a painting that shows law enforcement officers as pigs and other animals falls under the definition of “sensationally divisive.”
It’s repulsive, as a matter of fact.
Hunter said that Ryan (R-Wis.) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) assured the conference that should the architect disagree with Republicans, GOP leadership will overrule him, which is their prerogative as the majority party.
“There’s general consensus that the painting needs to be addressed, and there will be formal mechanisms by which it will be addressed,” said AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan.
Rep. Dave Reichert (R-Wash.) is preparing a letter to the office of the Capitol Architect — which led the panel that judged the artwork as appropriate to hang in the Capitol — urging officials to consider removing the painting without congressional intervention based on the rules of the art competition itself. Those rules point to House policies that prohibit “exhibits depicting subjects of contemporary political controversy or a sensationalistic or gruesome nature.”
“While it is not the intent to censor any artwork, we do wish to avoid artwork that is potentially inappropriate for display in this highly traveled area leading to the Capitol,” the rules state.
The panel of the House Office Building Commission is made up of Speaker Ryan, McCarthy, and Nancy Pelosi. They have the power to overturn any decision by the Capitol Architect, if they don’t agree with his decision.
Leadership’s involvement could drastically escalate the issue. It is unlikely that Democrats will back down from their demands that the painting be left alone.
Clay even tried to file a police report against Hunter for theft when he took down the painting. The U.S. Capitol Police, which did not like the painting and thanked Hunter for its removal, refused to take the complaint.
And this is where we all point and laugh.
Hopefully, the Architect does the right thing. This painting is nothing more than an open wound, and the Congressional Black Caucus is far more concerned with rubbing salt in it, than in healing any divides.