By Symi Rom-Rymer
Michael Kimmelman’s recent article, “When Fear Turns Graphic,” offered a peek into the process behind making political art, with the recent Swiss pro-minaret ban ads as his focal point. Unfortunately, for me, whatever insights he hoped to share were overshadowed by a surprising naïveté when addressing anti-Muslim sentiment in Europe and his condescending tone towards Americans—his readers.
First of all, Kimmelman airily dismissed concerns over Switzerland’s latent racism: “Much predictable tut-tutting ensued about Swiss xenophobia, even though surveys showed similar plebiscites would get pretty much the same results elsewhere.”
Then, he insulted our intelligence by equating the German and Muslim immigrant experience in Switzerland. “A 46-year-old German (yes, an immigrant himself in Switzerland), he is the father of two adopted children from North Africa although he declined to talk about his personal life.”
Finally, he patronized us by asserting that “it may be hard for Americans to grasp the role [political ads] can play“ in Europe. “In the subways and streets in America, billboards and posters…are basically background noise. By contrast, they’re treated more seriously here, as news, at least.” Continue reading