Contracting the Future by Susan
It is with great shock and dismay that I hear of the closure of White
Gallery by the newly created Cultural Bureau of the US Department of
Homeland Security. As I understand, the exhibition that was due to open
involved a rare and unique opportunity to hear a variety of voices talk
about September 11th, civil liberties and the ‘war on terror’. This is
deeply worrying development and bears a frightening resemblance to what
we thought were the bad old days of the cold war.
Several articles have appeared in recent days in the British Press by
American journalists. Many of these articles have pleaded to members of
the British and European public to understand that 12 months on, America
has learned nothing because of a lack of free press and thus any meaningful
information on what is going on in other parts of the world. The articles
try to explain how a corporate and lobby-interest controlled press and
media industry begins to effectively feel and look like total censorship.
Although the real ideological difference between Europe and the US is
often exaggerated in such debates, I believe that these journalists are
making an important point. The control and censorship of important public
venues, exhibitions, spaces and other voices is part of US security precisely
because it guarantees the administration a coherent nation, united in
grief, war and most of all, blissful ignorance.
While the notion of security conjures up ideas of being care-free, free
from 'risk' or anxiety, it also (in appropriately financial terms) denotes
something that is paid down, deposited or pledged to make certain a future
obligation or payment of debt. The Department of Homeland Security and
deplorable actions such as the closure of White Box are merely securing
a state of censorship and ignorance. However, the contract into which
future generations of Americans are unwittingly entering, is far from
peaceful or carefree. State compliance will indeed be guaranteed but so
too will the demise of any remaining semblance of democracy, debate or
understanding that might eradicate the perceived necessity of such 'wars'.
This closure is but one drop in the ocean. However, it is a dangerous
seed and must be challenged directly and effectively. The scale of what
is required for any meaningful resistance is now vast and complex.
Goldsmtihs College, University of London, UK
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