Dear President Shirley Jackson:
I was disheartened to learn of the censoring of artist Wafaa Bilal’s
exhibition project at RPI, Virtual Jihadi.
Mr. Bilal is a highly regarded artist whose work questions the overwrought
tropes of ‘good’ and ‘evil,’ especially as deployed during wartime, and,
even more particularly, in the light of warmaking based on pretenses that
demonstrably have been proven false. His is serious and necessary work.
A number of the news accounts I have read cite either Bob Mirch, a local GOP
functionary, or the leader of the campus College Republicans, Ken Girardin,
as voices demanding closure of the show. I must ask, who are these people to
demand that an *artwork* be censored? Might they not have a political
agenda, given our ugly national condition after nearly eight years of firm
GOP political leadership?
I am sorry you have to undergo this storm of controversy. On the other hand,
I urge you to embrace the situation, stand up to these transparently
political attacks, and declare yourself and your institution the protectors
of freedom. You will have the support and gratitude of artists, researchers,
workers, and intellectuals the world over.
Dan S. Wang
Madison, Wisconsin, USA