Jack’s guest blog post is a little late this week –
In the middle of all the hoo-ha in NC just now with big music stars cancelling appearances in protest against the so-called religious freedom legislation, I noticed an appeal by Malaprops bookstore. An author scheduled to do a signing had cancelled and they argued that he should have come and shown solidarity with a business that opposed the new law.
I suppose because it is one of our favorite bookstores (and Wendy has done a signing there herself) it made me pay a bit more attention to the question.
Of course this has nothing to do with religious freedom and everything to do with blind prejudice.
It’s ironic that many of the early European settlers braved a dangerous journey across the Atlantic in small sailing ships in order to escape prejudice. Over time, of course, it would be their descendants who would revert to putting up the shutters against Irish, Italians, Japanese, Jews, Mexicans, Hispanics etc., etc. You don’t have to dig too far into that list to see religious overtones either.
The worst example, and its legacy is still with us, is color prejudice – something so deeply rooted that I fear it will take many generations to completely die out.
A further irony is that one of the things that makes the United States distinctive in the world is its culture – the art, music, dance and storytelling traditions that mix and blend threads from all the individual cultures of the incomers along with the Native Americans who were already here.
It’s the artists who are in the vanguard of this latest battle and I salute their integrity in the face of this degrading, politically populist and downright rabble-rousing move. Wendy and I love Asheville and visit the city frequently to enjoy its cafes, shops and very European atmosphere. It’s very hard to believe what’s going on in the state as you wander through its downtown mingling with the street musicians, mime artists, dog walkers et al.
And, what of Malaprops’ cancelled signing? For what it’s worth I think that got more attention than a few words on the day would have.
It’s most often that it’s the artists, no matter what the medium, that are always on the cutting edge of change. Art and much of it’s culture, music etc are political or politically affected no matter how much the artist hasn’t purposely intended it. Kudos to those creative souls who stood when they could have sat, and continued on. My thoughts go to Woody Gutherie and Pete Seeger., Rodin, and even to sculptor John Houser (formerly of Asheville, now of El Paso and Santa Fe) who withstood all the storms connected with their work.