QATAR—Greek Deputy Culture Minister Costas Tzavaras seemed to be pretty upset upon learning that Qatar officials wanted to veil two ancient statutes among 600 individual art works from the 6th and 2nd centuries currently visiting Qatar as part of the "Olympics - Past and Present" exhibition. The contested statues depict male nudes and the Qataris wanted the dirty parts covered up.
According to the AP, “Tzavaras, who visited the Muslim country last month for the exhibition opening, objected, saying the works should be displayed as they were or shipped home. “
Qatar would not bulge... er, budge... and neither would the Greek. The two statues were pulled and sent home, genitals and buttocks intact.
But it’s the reason given in the article for why the Qatar officials objected so vehemently that truly gives one pause. According to a Culture Ministry official, it was to “avoid scandalizing female visitors.”
So, it’s not men who are offended by seeing the male genitalia, but women who would be, were they allowed to cast their eyes upon them?
It’s an insane mixture of arrogance and idiocy, to be sure, but nothing new. Ten years ago, another fundamentalist named John Ashcroft had similar feelings of shame for inanimate art works depicting the human body that just happened to be located in the Great Hall of the Department of Justice, where as the nation’s Attorney General he was frequently photographed. The solution then was to do what the Qataris wanted to do today, cover ‘em up.
The USA Today story on the draping of the Spirit of Justice statue in 2002 contains another gem of a reference about another moral crusader. "When former Attorney General Edwin Meese released a report on pornography in the 1980s," the paper reported, "photographers dived to the floor to capture the image of him raising the report in the air, with the partially nude female statue behind him."
Why again do societies put people in charge of cultural ministries and departments of justice whose personal beliefs contravene the very ethos of those institutions? Why again is it tolerated? The Greeks, whose nation is now an economic ruin as well, know the answer!
Image: Depiction is NOT one of the statues removed from the "Olympics - Past and Present" exhibition visiting Qatar.