A Rhode Island high school student won an art award and an A from his teacher for building an abstract scene that juxtaposes Nazi swastikas and quotes by Adolf Hitler with American flags, desert-colored toy soldiers and an image of President Bush.
Jeffrey Eden, 17, insisted he was trying to make comparisons between the U.S.-led war in Iraq and the German blitzkrieg without actually equating Hitler to Bush, the Providence Journal reported.
Jeffrey Eden’s project won a prize at Rhode Island Scholastic Art Awards (Photo: Providence Journal)
But his piece, titled “Bush/Hitler and How History Repeats Itself,” immediately prompted a complaint after it was displayed at a store with other winners of the Rhode Island Scholastic Art Awards.
Paul Lewis, 34, of North Providence, found the artwork offensive and notified media after asking that it be removed. President Bush’s policies have no relationship to Hitler’s, he said, but the piece leaves the impression Bush is as evil as the Nazi dictator was.
Eden, who plans to study art after graduation from Chariho Regional High School, thinks he was “clear about what I was trying to get across.”
“I believe those who misconstrued the artwork didn’t take the time to really read into it,” he told the paper.
Eden said he supports U.S. soldiers but contends the war in Iraq was unjustified.
“At the time we invaded, we did not have the justification nor the intelligence to take [Saddam Hussein] out the way we did,” he said.
Store owner Hershel Alpert refused to remove the exhibit but attached a disclaimer stating the views of the artist do not represent the store.
“We’re not in the business of censoring art,” he told the Journal.
Although Eden was rewarded for his creativity, he undoubtedly has been following news of political and popular culture.
As WorldNetDaily reported, MoveOn.org, a left-leaning soft-money organization allied with the Democratic Party, posted two spots equating Bush with Hitler as part of its “Bush in 30 Seconds” television ad contest last year. One of the ads featured images of the German tyrant with the words, “What were war crimes in 1945 is foreign policy in 2003.” The final two frames include Hitler with his hand raised and then a shot of Bush with his hand up taking the oath of office.
Last summer, Republicans accused the Kerry campaign of hyprocrisy for calling on Bush to apologize for folding brief excerpts from the MoveOn.org pieces into an ad of its own that begins with the title: “The Many Faces of the John Kerry Campaign. The Coalition of the Wild-eyed.”
Ad in MoveOn.org contest equated Bush with Hitler.
MoveOn.org’s biggest contributor, billionaire financier George Soros, also has evoked the Nazi regime in his criticism of the Bush administration.
In an interview with the Washington Post, Soros said he believed the White House was guided by a “supremacist ideology.”
“America, under Bush, is a danger to the world,” he said. “… When I hear Bush say, ‘You’re either with us or against us,’ it reminds me of the Germans. … My experiences under Nazi and Soviet rule have sensitized me.”
Although MoveOn.org issued an apology for the Bush-Hitler ads, one week later it staged an event to announce contest winners in which participants stayed on the Nazi theme.
Comedian Margaret Cho said, in part:
“Despite all of this stupid bull—- that the Republican National Committee, or whatever the f— they call them, that they were saying that they’re all angry about how two of these ads were comparing Bush to Hitler? I mean, out of thousands of submissions, they find two. They’re like f—ing looking for Hitler in a haystack. You know? I mean, George Bush is not Hitler. He would be if he f—ing applied himself. (big, extended applause) I mean he just isn’t.”
Singer Linda Ronstadt said after the November election that the U.S. is “like Germany, before Hitler took over. The economy was bad and people felt kicked around. They looked for a scapegoat. Now we’ve got a new bunch of Hitlers.”