Failed hanging campaign at Leiden University: Woke’s malaise


Dutch group portrait with survivor: painting of the former rectorship of Leiden University by Rein Dool, 1976. Second from the left is the then rector and medievalist Dolf Cohen, who was commissioned by Johan Huizinga to obtain his doctorate in 1941 with his dissertation “The ideas about Troy by medieval historians in the West to 1160”.
Image: Rob Dorresteijn/Leiden University

Waking up to the sight of six old men, three of whom were smoking: Leiden University had given in to the cancellation culture and hung a photo showing, among other things, the former Jewish rector.

DThe eighty-nine-year-old Dutch artist Rein Dool describes blind actionism as ‘narrow-minded’: Leiden University, for which Dool and six professors from the rectorate captured a view of the boardroom in oil on canvas in 1976, half of whom smoke had removed his photo without further ado. It was enough for a student to be bothered by the sight of the smoking old men to start this iconoclasm. She posted a photo of the image on Twitter, the list of bans of our time, calling for “self-critical” comments. The dean of the law school immediately took to the student’s criticism and justified the execution of the hanging and with the photo side of the photo on the wall (to some extent a “stand in the corner and be ashamed”) with her own distaste for it is the many years of consulting with men to add, “And I hate smoke too.” Now, you don’t have to be a smoker, or even defend the fundamental right to smoke, to realize how outrageous the portrayal of smoking by men as a hanging argument is; With this justification, countless smoking “Cavaliers with clay pipes” by the baroque painter Frans Hals and his studio in nearby Haarlem and elsewhere had to be hanged because smoke was constantly coming out of the diving rods of Dutch genre painting. A fortiori, however, countless cinema classics with smoking white men and especially all interviews with Günter Gaus should be censored to censor the smoking scenes in the film archives, which in the case of Gaus’ gifted “Personal” interviews would also affect women like Hannah Arendt , who tricked the studio into a bet with him in 1964. And – to underline the surreality of the pictorial “smoking ban” – even René Magritte should eventually show the painted non-pipe “La trahison des images” with the famous inscription “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” underneath. forbidden.

Image, stand in the corner and shame on you!

As with Magritte with the non-smoking pipe, there is also an elephant in Dool’s photograph: none of the six grandees are depicted in an idealized way; on the contrary, they sit quietly, pot-bellied and brooding behind clouds of smoke and over mountains of files, without even looking at the other. In addition, the painter stacks up surrealistic black files as abstract steps for the sitter in the middle. As an absolute no-go in portraiture, the head of the only person standing above the nose is chopped off. So this snapshot in oils doesn’t take itself seriously and certainly doesn’t testify to geniuses; On the contrary, he makes self-deprecating comments – if you look at him impartially. The bitter thing about this cancellation action, however, is that the rector portrayed in the genre who has now almost disappeared was Dolf Cohen, who, unlike Anne Frank, had survived the Nazi occupation in his hiding place. The university has now put up the statue again after massive protests. However, the damage of a misty waking suspicion remains.

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