The shock of the terrorist attacks in Paris, Copenhagen and Tunis has sparked different reactions: anger, revolt, an urge to debate or otherwise fear: fear of the amalgamation, fear of others or simply physical fear. Inevitably, museums found themselves face to face with that fear. Some have opted for self-censorship. These include the Victoria and Albert Museum in London which hid a twentieth century Iranian portrait representing Muhammad, the Hergé Museum in Brussels which canceled an exhibition in homage to Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and an exhibition called “Femina” canceled in Clichy-la-Garenne.
Were they right?
Here's what I would say if I was against...
Ah! The cowards! Terrorists have successfully instilled in them such fear to and imposed upon them their own prohibitions. Is it not the purpose of a museum to open the public's eyes to the diversity of the world? Hey! The curators of the Victoria and Albert Museum, why do you prevent other views of Islam than those of the fundamentalists to be viewable?  Have you forgotten the meaning of your mission?
Hey! Musée Hergé, don't you think that by censoring your exhibition about the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, you murdered them a second time? What? You want to wait for the "climate" to calm down? You're a meteorologist? Terrorists are less stupid than you, they also wait. So, in doubt, do we never show swathes of world heritage that does not correspond to a certain vision of the world?
Hey! The curators of the exhibition Femina, by censoring works under the pretext that they can be "picked up", you play the game of those who want to pick it up. The work of Zoulikha Bouabdellah is a call to reflection and dialogue. With your censure it becomes stigmatizing. You disguise it in what you believe to fight. Does fear paralyzes your brain?
Here's what I would say if I agreed...
Relax, foam warriors! How easy it is to call to courage when you are far from danger! Those responsible were right, let us trust them. They have lives under their responsibility, they are at the front line every day, and when security is no longer guaranteed, when employees fear for their lives and for that of the public, it is wise to give up temporarily.
They are not ideologues, unlike you who have only slogans in your mouth but the hands in the pockets and feet in your slippers. The climate is dangerous, minds are heated, the police cannot ensure continued safety, so do not act as if we were in a normal situation.
If you love life, you try to protect it, if you love heritage, you do not foolishly expose it to hazards.
Here’s what I think…
Honourable museum directors and curators who have chosen self-censorship: I understand.
You are wise and responsible. So I give you some advice: If your job has become so dangerous, resign! Go hide in a secured bunker! We will call you back when the "climate" will be more "peaceful". Leave room for reckless young people who will be pleased to "risk their lives" instead of yours. They have the wisdom to think that it is irresponsible to leave some totalitarian individuals to dictate their law, to letting slip a hard-won freedom. They will have the audacity to think that the overwhelming majority of religious citizens has no problem to live next to museums exhibiting all the sensibilities and thoughts contained in their heritage, even when they contradict their faith. They will have the madness to emulate the Bardo Museum of Tunis which reopened despite the danger. Maybe one day they will die in the exercise of their functions, murdered by a madman or struck by a meteorite, as it can happen to all the people walking in the street.
You have understood, I am against self-censorship in museums.
And you? Express yourself freely in the comments, censorship does not exist at Guido!
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