One of the tactics used to dehumanise minorities is to claim they have no culture, that they produce no art – because how can they when they’re not fully human? So it’s not a huge surprise to see disgraced former comedy writer Graham Linehan on his pity party tour claiming in the Daily Mail that trans people “produce no art”. There are “no great trans films”, “no great trans creators”… you get the idea.
And it’s a very old idea.
In far-right and religious extremism, the only art of value is the art produced by the in-group. Art and culture produced by members of the out-group is worthless, degenerate, corrupt, and the people who produce it and consume it are untermensch. Subhumans.
Here’s an explanation from 1942:
The subhuman is a biological creature, crafted by nature, which has hands, legs, eyes and mouth, even the semblance of a brain. Nevertheless, this terrible creature is only a partial human being.
Although it has features similar to a human, the subhuman is lower on the spiritual and psychological scale than any animal. Inside of this creature lies wild and unrestrained passions: an incessant need to destroy, filled with the most primitive desires, chaos and coldhearted villainy.
A subhuman and nothing more!
That particular screed was edited by Himmler.
The Nazis also railed against art specifically from the 1920s onwards, calling it Entartete Kunst – degenerate art. They claimed that such art was created by people corrupted and enfeebled, by people whose goal was to corrupt the minds of others and whose art was not in keeping with racial and sexual purity, that some works were “an insult to German womanhood”.
They started by demonising it, then by confiscating it, then by disappearing the people who made and consumed it.
Hatred that begins with art never ends there.
The Nazi eradication of what was claimed to be degenerate in the symbolic realm of the visual, literary and performing arts was, quite logically, an early warning signal of a philosophy that would soon be applied to selective groups of human beings. Like the paintings that were rounded up and the books that Hitler burned, ostensibly degenerate people were soon dealt with in a final solution.
In Britain, we used to battle this kind of thing rather than promote it.
People on social media are dunking on Linehan with endless lists of great trans artists and works. But they’re falling into the trap, which is to distract. Linehan knows full well that there are great trans creators; before his decline into madness he used to praise some of them, and there’s no way that he’s unaware of, say, Wendy Carlos or The Matrix. But the issue is not that whether there are great trans artists. Of course there are. The issue is the ongoing mainstreaming of far-right views, in some cases actual Nazi views, in the mainstream press without criticism or challenge – and the cowardice of people who could and should be decrying those views rather than promoting them.