Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review March 2, 2001 / 7 Adar 5761

Evan Gahr

Gahr
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
James Glassman
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Jackie Mason
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Roger Simon
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports


Only in New Yawk --- NOT!


http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- IT sounds like an only in New York City story. But taxpayers nationwide have good reason to follow the latest battle between New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the Brooklyn Museum of Art.

At least three federal agencies have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Brooklyn Museum in recent years. Nevertheless, congressmen and senators remain largely oblivious to this dubious use of taxpayer dollars.

Once again, Mayor Giuliani is the rare elected official--city, state or federal--who would hold the Museum fully accountable for its perverse use of taxpayer dollars. In 1999, he tried to deny City funds to the Museum after it displayed a dung-splattered photo of the Virgin Mary, but a federal judge ruled against him on free speech grounds.

This February, Giuliani vowed to cut off City funding for the Brooklyn Museum over its latest foray into anti-Catholic bigotry, "Yo Mamma's Last Supper." This photo collection in the Museum's new exhibit of works by black photographers, features Jesus as a naked woman in the Last Supper. Giuliani says that a decision to de-fund the Museum because of "Yo Mama's Last Supper" and similar "art" could be narrowly crafted to withstand court scrutiny. Perhaps. Or maybe another federal judge will fancy himself the reincarnation of Thomas Jefferson by proclaiming that de-funding the Museum would violate the First Amendment.

Meanwhile, as the ferocious battle over City money seemed headed for court, other sources of public money for the Museum are overlooked. Indeed, the Brooklyn Museum, long subsidized by National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, is just one example of how congressmen and senators don't quite notice how they spend their constituents' money. Often times, they even denounce the very institutions which they unwittingly fund. For example, in early May 1999, the American Psychological Association came under fierce Congressional attack for publishing an article that seemed to condone pedophilia. But the APA could cry all the way to the bank. According to subsequent interviews by this writer, Congressional critics didn't even realize that the APA itself received nearly $5 million in federal funds for research and development the previous year-and the federal National Institutes of Health routinely awards hundreds of millions of dollars for research by individual psychologists.

A similar spectacle unfolded when elected officials denounced the Brooklyn Museum in September 1999. Yes, prominent critics did say that the NEA had given the Brooklyn Museum $500,000 the previous three years. But New Hampshire Sen. Bob Smith (Independent) and Rep. Vito Fossella (R-NY), were oblivious to other sources of government funding-including a $135,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities some two months earlier. In fact, the Brooklyn Museum had even received money from an obscure federal body named the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the American Spectator disclosed

The federal government continues to underwrite the Brooklyn Museum, although perhaps not so generously. The NEH last year awarded the Museum an outright $91,000 grant, with $7000 in matching funds, for a community web site project.

Other times, assistance is indirect. The NEA even indemnifies or insures for up to $500,000 exhibits at the Brooklyn Museum. Of course, money is fungible. If Uncle Sam foots the insurance bill you have more money for "artistic endeavors."

Taxpayer dollars run amok is not limited to Washington. New York's Gov. George Pataki is apparently unaware of financial assistance the New York State Education Department has provided the Brooklyn Museum over the last year. For this cautious politician, ignorance is bliss. In 1999, he claimed New York state did not fund the Museum, until New York Post reporter Fred Dicker proved otherwise.

The current controversy has occasioned more calls for abolishing public funding for the arts because, claim social conservatives, the money invariably subsidizes repulsive works. Is it really beyond the realm of government to establish reasonable standards for the use of public funds--or even keep track of how the money is spent? It seems that way. Hopefully, Mayor Giuliani can reverse this sorry trend. Then, this really would be an "only in New York" story, but with a happy ending.



JWR contributor Evan Gahr is senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. To comment click here.


Up

02/28/01: Jesse the spendthrift? 'Moocher' is more like it!
02/21/01: Remember Saint Ralph?
02/17/01: Donna Brazile Speaks out on Clarence Thomas
02/15/01: Operation PUSH back
02/08/01: Of 'players,' boozers, and your tax dollars
02/02/01: Schumer's new insensitivity
01/31/01: The Real Pat Caddell
01/26/01: Louts Above the Law
01/18/01: Bush and other GOP converts to racial politics are profoundly misguided
12/20/00: Whose America? Here are some election results the "mainstream" press won't report
12/14/00: Gore's last smear campaign
12/05/00: Fido v. Fido --- the emerging 'pets' rights' movement
12/01/00: Missile defense fog
11/17/00: The Dersh opens his yap one time too many
11/13/00: Gore's biggest missing Florida bloc
11/07/00: Hillary's cruel blow to American pluralism
11/01/00: Given Hillary's history should anyone -- other than society's most radical -- be surprised?
10/26/00: Remembering Gus Hall, that 'all-American' kinda guy
10/19/00: Hey conservatives, Nader wants your vote!
08/24/00: Not So Super-Heroes
08/15/00: Meet Mr. Quotas
08/01/00:The Visigoths are coming! The Visigoths are coming! ... Or so the media thinks
07/12/00: Geraldo's Food for Thought
06/27/00: Time for To Execute a Murderer
06/20/00: Hillary and the Cop-bashers: Will the real Ms. Rodham please stand up?
06/08/00: For voting rights purposes, should criminal offenders be judged not by the content of their character but the color of their skin?
05/10/00: Feminist Majority Rule
05/02/00: The Tin Man's Doctor
03/07/00: Bob Jones hypocrisy: Liberals are lecturing Americans on "anti-Catholicism"?
02/03/00: The red and the Black: The Left-wing Extremist in Bill Bradley’s Camp
01/06/00: Looking backwards: An anchorman's version of the 20th Century
12/16/99: Yellow journalism for the Pink Lady?
12/07/99: How to make the American Psychological Association squirm

© 2001, Evan Gahr. Adapted from the American Spectator online edition