Reps. John Boehner and Eric Cantor, the two leading House Republicans, have issued a warning to the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery: Take down that exhibit where Jesus is covered with ants, or face "tough scrutiny" next year. [Update below]
The Catholic site CNSNews.com brought the exhibit — called "Hide/Seek," which "contains video of a Jesus statue with ants crawling on it, as well as works of art with strongly sexual themes" — to Boehner and Cantor's attention, asking what they thought of it. They could have responded, "We have other shit to do before worrying about the aesthetic merit of some art exhibit in Chinatown," but that would've been too easy. Instead we get:
"American families have a right to expect better from recipients of taxpayer funds in a tough economy," Boehner's Spokesman Kevin Smith told CNSNews.com. "While the amount of money involved may be small, it's symbolic of the arrogance Washington routinely applies to thousands of spending decisions involving Americans' hard-earned money at a time when one in every 10 Americans is out of work and our children's future is being threatened by debt.
"Smithsonian officials should either acknowledge the mistake and correct it, or be prepared to face tough scrutiny beginning in January when the new majority in the House moves to end the job-killing spending spree in Washington," Smith said.
Meanwhile, Eric Cantor's flack responded: "This is an outrageous use of tax payer money and an obvious attempt to offend Christians during the Christmas season." Not quite as blatantly authoritarian a tone as Boehner's, but still a bit much. An obvious attempt to offend Christians. All of them. And considerably less discreet than the equally threatening Green Dragon.
[Ant-covered Jesus screencap via Penny Star/CNSNews.com]
That didn't take too long. The ant-covered Jesus is now gone. From TBD.com:
The National Portrait Gallery has removed a work of art from a GLBT-themed exhibition after it attracted conservative and religious ire for its images of homosexuality and Christianity. Director Martin Sullivan announced the removal of A Fire in My Belly by artist David Wojnarowicz after conservative news service CNS wrote yesterday that the "Christmas-season exhibit," which opened in October, used taxpayer money to indirectly fund an exhibition that includes imagery of genitalia, homoerotic situations, and Christ covered in ants.