Indiana Students Demand Removal Of 'Offensive' Thomas Hart Benton Painting Honoring Triumph Over KKK

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Should every historical reference that evokes negative emotions be removed from campus?

The Indiana mural by Thomas Hart Benton is an homage to the Indiana press for breaking the Klan's grip on power in the state, but critics say its depictions of the KKK aren't just historical.

Nearly 1,600 signatories are asking the school to take down or cover the offending panel from A Social History of Indiana (1933), also known as the Indiana murals. But others are speaking up in support of the artwork, contending that Benton was looking to draw attention to the evils of the Klan.

“It is past time that Indiana University take a stand and denounce hate and intolerance in Indiana and on IU’s campus,” reads the petition, which argues that exposing students and faculty of color to the image of the KKK stands in violation of the school’s diversity policy and the student Right to Freedom From Discrimination."

The mural features Klansmen seen alongside a reporter, photographer, and printer—a reference to the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1928 story that uncovered the KKK’s ties to the government and broke their political influence over the state of Indiana. In the same manner, Benton used art to unapologetically depicted the ugly side of Missouri history, including lynchings and a slave auction, in his A Social History of Missouri murals for the state capitol building.

Are students serious that any negative references that evoke an emotional response be moved? via ArtNet