So the day finally came and the Hanbury Street mural which only recently appeared courtesy of street artist Mear One has been whitewashed over. By all accounts this controversial painting called ‘Freedom for Humanity’ was alleged to contain anti-semetic imagery. It even made the national news in the likes the Mail and the BBC.
Complaints had been made to Tower Hamlets council because the men depicted in the mural playing monopoly on the backs of the working classes were interpreted by some to be Jewish. The area around Hanbury Street has a Jewish history although that doesn’t say much, as far as I can make out there are a lot of cultures who could lay claim to having a historical foothold here.
Now i’ve seen this mural a few times and the men in the painting to me look like old men. Yes that’s right, old men! They have white hair, some have moustaches, all are wizened. Now forgive me if I’m wrong but surely these arn’t meant to represent any religious group? They were supposed to represent bankers and despite the furore I don’t see anything in that picture that would change my mind on that.
Okay so maybe there’s more debate to be had so maybe we should use the reasonable person test? Would a reasonable person looking at that picture think that they were looking at an image purposely designed to represent, in a negative way, any one religious group? That is certinaly not what I took away from that picture when I first blogged about it here. To me this mural is all about the risks people have been taking with the money, lives and prospects of ordinary people around the world due to greed and the race for short term results of an elite few in the banking sector.
So anyway as sometimes happens when a few people shout loud enough, the mural has been painted over on the command of Tower Hamlets council. Looking at the job that’s been done it probably took around 5 minutes, a slap of white paint, splish, splosh and boom back to the kerbside for a coffee. So much for debate or challenge, the deed has been done, forever ruined and worryingly reactionary.