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"Broken Obelisk" by Barnett NewmanEXPAND
"Broken Obelisk" by Barnett Newman
Photo by Ed Uthman via Flickr

5 Questions I Want to Ask the White Supremacists Who Vandalized the Rothko Chapel

One of Houston’s most beloved cultural institutions, the Rothko Chapel, was the target of vandalism early last Friday. Paint was spilled near the entrance and in the reflecting pool surrounding the famous “Broken Obelisk” sculpture by Barnett Newman that is dedicated to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The ground was also strewn with flyers bearing the phrase “It’s okay to be white.”

The good news is that nothing was permanently damaged so the people of Houston can still continue to enjoy the chapel despite the actions of whatever deplorable decided this was a good time to show their entire ass to the city. The bad news is that once again the most diverse city in America is forced to remember that we have a bunch of knot-headed white supremacists in our midst. In case they or any of their sympathizers have the ability to read, I have some questions.

5. Are You Aware Your Message is the Exact Opposite of Your Actions?

I’m not even going to touch the ridiculous notion that white people are under some kind of dark cloud where it’s not okay to be us. The internet at large has already burnt Josh Denny to a crisp for his idea that “’straight White Male’ has become this century’s N-Word,” and I’m not going to add anything that hasn’t already been said. Feeling guilty because your demographic controls nearly all of the country and others call that unfair isn’t oppression. It’s whinging

That aside, if it is so okay to be white, why are you out there destroying a beloved local landmark? If someone wasn’t already thinking “freakin’ white people” before they sure as hell are now. You can’t say claim whites are peachy keen in the middle of a petty crime that threatens an irreplaceable work of art. You’d have been better off sweeping up the joint and leaving a “you’re welcome” card.
[location-1] 4. Do You Want to Contribute to the Police State?

The Rothko is considering adding more cameras and other security measures in response. They had somewhat minimal security before because, seriously, who wrecks the Rothko Chapel? It’s like being in Captain America’s rogue’s gallery; only the worst people are on the list.

Now, here’s a bit more normalization of always being watched lest one of us is up to shenanigans. This is what dipshits who think they’re protestors never seem to understand. All your crime is doing is making everyone else comfortable with increased surveillance because the only we hate more than invasion of privacy is people like you getting away with something like this.

3. Did Your School Skip the King Speech?

The obelisk is dedicated to Dr. King, perhaps most famous for this quote…

I have a dream that one day right there in Alabama little black boys and little black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.


If “it’s okay to be white,” why on Earth would you desecrate a monument to this sentiment? Assuming for a second that this was an act of self-actualization and not anti-blackness (unlikely, I know), it simply doesn’t follow any logic. Pride becomes hate when it turns identity into a weapon that does measurable harm. The other side of the flyer might as well have said, “and if you don’t agree we’ll destroy what you love.” That’s a threat, not a plea for acceptance.

2. Have You No Artistic Talent at All?

I know this is a weird place to fixate, but paint in the reflection pool? Really? Can you dingalings even hate crime well?

The Rothko Chapel is a masterpiece of simplicity. The whole area is like a fixed point in the cosmic dance, filling everyone with an ounce of good in their souls with peace and tranquility. Mindlessly dumping paint on it isn’t even interesting from a destructive standpoint. This is why so many white power tattoos look like they were drawn by third graders in a place they never got the lead out of the toys. I have cats more capable of mature anarchic self-expression. Maybe if you people spent time IN a museum rather than trying to take a dump on one you’d be able to leave something more meaningful than a stain. Speaking of…

1. About That Economic Anxiety…

It’s a common refrain that the Trump supporters in this country aren’t racist, by golly. They’re just full of economic anxiety. Of course, when you actually sit down and dig it always turns out that, no, they’re just really racist.

That doesn’t mean there’s no economic anxiety, and that makes me wonder why in the name of all things good and holy the museum they’d attack is one of Houston’s only free ones? The Menil Collection and Rothko Chapel are two of the places of high culture in Houston where the poorest person and the richest have equal access. They’re places I myself have sought solace in on days when I barely had a dollar to my name.

If poor whites feel downtrodden and left behind enough to buy paint, print flyers and trash a park, why pick one of the few places openly dedicated to providing art to the broke? Either they didn’t know, in which case here is a reminder tip: there is free.

Or they knew quite well and wanted to piss on a piece of Dr. King. I’m going out on a limb and saying it’s the latter. Yeah, it’s okay guy to be a white person. It’s just not okay to be THOSE white people. 

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