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Dutch Museum Renames Historic Paintings With More Politically Correct Names

PC hysteria: not just for Americans!

painting by Johannes Mijtenspainting by Johannes MijtensThose concerned about a growing illiberal and ahistorical streak on the American left can take comfort (or pity) in knowing that it's not just us. In Amsterdam, for one, an iconic European art museum has begun renaming historic works whose titles or descriptions might be offensive to modern audiences. 

Hence, Simon Maris' early 1900s painting, "Young Negro Girl," has been rechristened "A Young Girl Holding a Fan." A boy described as a "negro servant" in a 1668 portrait of Margaret of Raephorst is now a "young black servant." References to "Eskimos," "Maroons," "Mohammedans," and "Hottentots" will also be removed, with original titles and descriptions preserved in an archive. 

According to the U.K.'s Dazed magazine, some 300 works of art at the popular Rijksmuseum have been edited as part of the Adjustment of Colonial Terminology project. "Words such as 'negro,' 'nigger,' and 'Mohammeden' have been replaced with less racially charged terminology in order to avoid causing offense to an increasingly international audience–one that last year was made up of 2.5 million visitors," Dazed reports. 

The reasoning behind the changes seems simple enough. It is essentially the same reason we saw a backlash against misplaced cultural appropriation this year, from Valentino and KTZ’s “exotic” catwalks to Katy Perry’s and Kylie Jenner’s cornrows. The reason why, when you turn on the TV this Christmas, the BBC’s adaption of Agatha Christie’s “Ten Little Niggers” won’t be aired under that derogatory, original title. And the reason why you’ll no longer find “Tintin in the Congo” in the kids comic section of your high-street book shop. It ultimately comes down to cultural respect.

The curator leading the Rijksmuseum initiative, Martine Gosselink, told the Times that "The point of the project is not to use names given by whites to others." In simple terms she said, "We Dutch are called kaaskops, or cheeseheads, sometimes, and we wouldn't like it if we went to a museum in another country and saw descriptions of images of us as 'kaas kop woman with kaas kop child', and that's exactly the same as what's happening here."

But there's a world of difference between current culture crimes (such as Katy Perry's cornrows) and a painter from the year 1900 using the word "negro." While it may have fallen on the wrong side of linguistic history, negro was not always a derogatory or widely offensive term. Acknowledging that—and perhaps introducing that fact to new generations—doesn't discount the power of language and its propensity to shift with time but rather makes that point more explicit and salient. 

Even with terms that have always been derogatory, the mere use of these offensive terms in their original context certainly need not be seen as an endorsement. Instead, it places art works within a particular time and place—a time and place that was very often racist, sexist, nationalistic, and any number of other now-taboo things. These things unwaveringly came to bear on the creation of art at that time period, either consciously or subconsciously, and the curation of art exhibits and museums. Allowing art to remain within such historical contexts is critical to fully understanding both the art and recent history. 

"Gauguin’s entire oeuvre is western colonialist," noted the Guardian's Stephen Moss, "his depictions of Tahitians exploitative and patronising, but that doesn’t mean we ignore him or write off his work. We judge it in its context. Censorship and wrenching art from its original context are barriers to seeing and thinking." 

Nonetheless, Rijksmuseum's project has been endorsed by the International Committee of Museums, which holds a lot of pull in the European museum world. Proponents point out that in many cases, artwork descriptions were originally written by curators rather than artists themselves. Other suggest that changing now-offensive words in work titles that weren't "meant to be hate-filled... can actually bring it into line with the original intention rather than distoriting it with words now out of context." 

But not everyone is on board. Martin Kemp, a professor of art history at Oxford University, suggested that titles and descriptions not created by the artists themselves should not be sacrosanct, but neither should they automatically be seen as less essential. For example, in a portrait of Saartjie Baartman—a woman brought from South Africa to Britain in the 1800s and exhibited like a zoo animal under the branding "Hottentot Venus"—the now-verboten word Hottentot is essential to understanding the piece itself, he told The Daily Beast. "You have to make clear that [the title] is part of why she was presented and part of the historical rationale for the work." 

The director of London's prestigious Tate Modern takes a harder line. He said the Tate would only follow Rijksmuseum's suit when it could get permission from all of the artists in question—a polite way of saying "when hell freezes over," since the majority of them are long dead. 

Photo Credit: Johannes Mijtens

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    ...Simon Maris' early 1900s painting, "Young Negro Girl," has been rechristened "A Young Girl Holding a Fan."

    THAT'S TOTAL BULLSHIT HOW DO WE KNOW THE SUBJECT ISN'T GENDER FLUID? Get that ugly pronoun out of there.

  • Quixote||

    There is simply no excuse for allowing any sort of trigger-speech or micro-aggression in any educational institution such as a museum. Hence, these paintings should all be immediately renamed or removed from the exhibiting institutions. Public mores have changed in regard to this sort of thing over the years, as New York prosecutors in particular have recognized by cracking down on inappropriately deadpan "parody" that's harmful to a reputation. See the documentation of America's leading criminal "satire" case at:

    http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  • Swiss Servator||

    He said the Tate would only follow Rijksmuseum's suit when it could get permission from all of the artists in question—a polite way of saying "when hell freezes over," since the majority of them are long dead.

    We are contacting a reputable medium right now!

    /the International Committee of Museums

  • R C Dean||

    Awesome response from the Tate.

  • DEG||

    Yes.

  • waffles||

    Awww...so hot right now.

  • waffles||

    Awww...so hot right now.

  • Thymirus||

    I'm hugely microagressed upon by the distinct, segregationist implications of the male-female symbols on public bathrooms. I urge governments everywhere to mandate the removal of those icons. I also advocate that men and woman molest each other's genitals momentarily before using the facilities in public bathrooms, and that this be enforced by a secret police force, in order that gender barriers be minimized and obliterated.

    As for the paintings, I think we should just name them all "___" to avoid offense.

  • gaijin||

    The painting titles should be crowdsourced.

    Thusly Miitjens painting would be titled 'ChestButt'.

  • Thymirus||

    "Young Negro Girl" would become "lol look out hes stealing ur wach #yolo".

  • Just say Nikki||

    Whitewashing? SMDH. This is clearly de-whitewashing.

  • gaijin||

    de-whitewashing.

    Whitescrubbing?

  • Entelechy||

    "We are contacting a reputable medium right now."

    Stop Mediumist microagression !

    There is nothing disreputable about large and differently heighted oouija board operatives.

  • Cardiologist||

    Attempts to whitewash history are generally a bad idea. That is why no-one is calling for the UNCF (United Negro College Fund) or NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) to change their names. The names have resonance and serve as a reminder of how far we have come, although we have plenty to go before we attain a truly colorblind society

  • Thymirus||

    Unless it's Confederate monuments being discussed, in which case their utter annihilation, or the concealment of their history by way of baseless and retarded rechristening, is the path to follow.

    /Leftist.

  • Tak Kak||

    Not just monuments

    "We are going to bring the back hoe, the tractors and the men with the equipment to raise Bedford Forrest from the soil of Memphis”

  • ||

    I never thought of 'Negro' as a derogatory term. I didn't know anyone else did either.

    Assuming it is means that calling attention to someone being a Negro is a bad thing because being a Negro is bad?

    Sounds racist to me.

  • Thymirus||

    I'm from North Carolina, and several older (mid-40s and above, in my experience) people I know use the term "negro" as a completely neutral descriptor for blacks, the same way anybody else would generically refer to them as "black", or "African-American".

    Grievance-mongering retards don't have a very functional relationship with reality, though.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    "Negro" is a Romance language-based affectation. The word "black" has a long and distinguished Anglo-Saxon heritage, and should suffice for proper English usage.

  • Thymirus||

    I know. I tend mostly toward usage of the word "black", but I drop "negro" fairly frequently, especially when I'm intentionally pissing off some leftist cuntbreath.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    I wasn't being serious.

  • Thymirus||

    I was, though. It's really quite enjoyable to watch them break out in cold sweats and screeching fits when they hear that word.

    "OH NO U DIDNT U YANK KNOB"

  • ||

    In Brazil they either say negro or negra depending on sex. Oddly enough, no blacks there seem to be at all offended by this.

  • Rhywun||

    Brazil =/= USA

    I'm mid-40s from the NE and I have never used the word "Negro". That's like something my grandfather might say.

    Anyway I think it's only derogatory in the sense that the group it's aimed at has basically said "please don't use it anymore". Kind of like "oriental" and "hispanic". IOW, words have context beyond their literal meaning.

  • ||

    Well, the word negro == black in Portuguese. So it's exactly the same as Americans using the term black, which I believe most blacks are not offended by either. There's also a much greater mixing of black and white there. There are no all black ghettoes there or much segregation at all. The favelas are just poor people of all races. Mixed race marriages are also very much more common there and there seems to be little tension between races.

  • Akira||

    "The favelas are just poor people of all races."

    That's like, so much more equal and stuff! We should be more like Brazil.

  • ||

    I think maybe you missed my point, Akira, but that's ok. I was trying to say that there is not racial segregation there in the way there is here. There is economic class segregation and it's worse than here.

  • Akira||

    I was making a goof at the expense of progs who always place "equality" over any actual measure of well-being.

    I should have added a /sarc tag - my bad! I forget that we have characters here like AmSoc and Tony who actually do believe stuff like that.

  • Zeb||

    Well, that's no different from using "black" in the US. Or is that when they are speaking English?

  • ||

    No, it's no different. Except that there is no one there saying that being called black is offensive and that we have to resort to using ridiculous terms like 'African American'.

  • ||

    No, it's no different. Except that there is no one there saying that being called black is offensive and that we have to resort to using ridiculous terms like 'African American'.

  • ||

    When I was a child, they were most often referred to as 'colored people'. Now that is offensive. But the left is always using the term 'people of color', which is not offensive.

    Look at this:

    Colored People - People of Color.

    Anyone else see the irony here?

  • Thymirus||

    I see vegetable-grade retardation, which is synonymous with progressivism anyway.

  • ||

    The people of color term for me seems totally non-offensive, but it is pure bullshit. Is white a color? Both white and black people come in a variety of skin colors. So unless white people are clear, the term is pure bullshit.

  • Zeb||

    As I say below, I think it is offensive. And I know at least one black person who agrees. Why should not being white be considered a primary characteristic of a person?

  • cgr2727||

    My skin is not white, despite being descended through nothing but Anglo-Saxon lines as far as I can trace. It's more of a creamy/off-white/pink flesh color. Wait...is "flesh-colored" racist? Which "flesh" are we talking about? For that matter, I think albinos would be pissed off that we of European descent call ourselves white.

    I am microaggressed, sir, microaggressed! I demand satisfaction!

  • Zeb||

    I have remarked on the irony of that situation on several occasions.

    I'm not a fan of either term. Too vague. Just say what you mean. And while I can't speak from experience, I would think that if I were more highly pigmented I would find it pretty fucking insulting that I should be categorized simply based on my non-whiteness.

  • Zeb||

    It sounds out of date and old-timey to say "negro", but it seems very silly to consider it offensive in any way. It is the word that the leaders of the civil rights movement tended to use, for fuck's sake. And as far as I know has never been commonly used as any kind of insult or epithet.

  • patskelley||

    I think purging innocent monikers as 'negro' is designed to reinforce shame for being born other than white. But what do I know.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    You know, I'm starting to wonder what this period will be called in the future. The Great Unlearning?

    Because it strikes me that we're in the midst of a depressingly major shift in our history. We're seeing the widespread abandonment of liberal values in academia, the abandonment of the very intellectual history that gave rise to academia, and the abandonment of objective truth as a basis for study.

    I'm not sure where it leads. But, if it succeeds, I can't see how it will be a good thing.

  • Thymirus||

  • ||

  • Hugh Akston||

    Well to be fair, 'objective truth' isn't very useful as a basis for study.

  • Just say Nikki||

    ^^^This is what you pee on.

  • cavalier973||

    Is that really true?

  • Zeb||

    Hard to say. Can people agree on what objective truth is?

  • Bill Dalasio||

    But, isn't that the point of what scholarly study is supposed to be? To try to figure that out?

  • cavalier973||

    Objective truth can only be determined by consensus, right?

  • gaijin||

    The Great Unlearning?/i

    Dark Ages II: Re-retarding bugaloo

  • GILMORE™||

    I'd pee on that

  • Inigo Montoya, Micro-Aggressor||

    If you want to know where it leads, read (or re-read) George Orwell's 1984. History was being re-written or destroyed (the memory hole), language was being cleaned up and simplified to prevent the ability to even express any liberty-oriented ideas, everyone was under surveillance and even thought was regulated, and of course hyped up total war was ongoing as a means to consolidate government power.

    It's stunning how prescient Orwell was. Unfortunately, the same politicos who pore over Saul Alinsky's writings and Woodrow Willson's have also obviously read their 1984 (and Brave New World and other similar dystopian sci-fi) and taken those novels more as "How-To to dumb-down and rule the populace" than as the dire warnings they were meant to be.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Possibly. The thing is, I think Orwell missed an important point. 1984 and The Party could only ever possibly be a transition feature. A world where rationality and human thought have been pushed out isn't a world that's going to be able to maintain a surveillance state. The technology it needs to maintain itself falls away.

    I've no doubt the social justice cadres salivate to be able to take on the role of O'Brien. The thing is, none of it works unless, despite what the Party wants, some people understand that 2+2=4 and not 5. Otherwise all the infrastructure they need to keep their grip becomes a hazard in itself.

  • Zeb||

    That's a good point, I think. But the biggest problem with the vision of 1984 is that no government ever has been competent to pull something like that off.

  • ||

    The disenligtenment?

  • R C Dean||

    The Endarkening.

  • cgr2727||

    A perfectly cromulent word, "Endarkening."

  • Hi there!||

    Hey, it's "People of Darkness"....or something like that

  • ||

    The Great Unlearning?

    The Age Of Unenlightenment

  • Akira||

    "You know, I'm starting to wonder what this period will be called in the future."

    If some Reason writers are to be believed, the term is "Libertarian Moment".

  • ||

    "Human-identifying canines playing a game of chance" really classes up the joint.

  • Cro's Innumerous Basterds||

    But what will they re-name "Boy With Apple"?

  • Thymirus||

    "iphone ftw"

  • gaijin||

    "fanboi"?

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    "Warrant for Tim Cook's arrest in NAMBLA crackdown"

  • patskelley||

    "They" with the color enhanced edible likeness of a seed-bearing structure in angiosperms

  • gaoxiaen||

    Kind of like a baby's arm?

  • ||

    I'm not sure his name will be Scudder, but Te Crazy Years are here and we are due for a theocracy. Although it may be a theocratic cargo cult worshipping "science".

  • ||

    It this goes on...

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Although it may be a theocratic cargo cult worshipping "science".

    This seems the more likely turn of events. Think about it, how many of the "I fucking love science" crowd are STEM majors? It's, as you suggest, a cargo cult to adopt the status earned by honest scientific inquiry to whatever they wanted to support anyway. I can see a priesthood in white lab coats consulting the Gospel according to Hawking.

  • ||

    Well, Bill Nye the I love fucking science guy, his degree is in mechanical engineering. So according to Tony, he is not a scientist and his opinion on climate is worthless.

  • some guy||

    I really wish Feynman were still around and using Twitter. I'd love to hear him comment on topics like this.

  • Princess Trigger||

    Priests of the temple of Syrinx?

  • ||

    Their great climate model computers fill the hallowed halls.

  • bacon-magic||

    They bring the gift of life...

  • Lee G||

    All Hail the Great Lysenko

  • R C Dean||

    Teh Crazy Years are here and we are due for a theocracy

    I believe I know of one that is applying for the job as we speak.

  • ||

    a 1668 portrait of Margaret of Raephorst is now a "young black servant" "young African European domestic engineer".

    They've got to try harder if they're going out derptard the American left.

  • Tak Kak||

    It's African-American, always!

  • ||

    I refuse to use that term. It's fucking stupid. How many blacks in the USA have ever even been to Africa? It's like if I insisted to be called a European American. I've even heard a couple blacks say they don't like the term African American.

  • Tak Kak||

    "I refuse to use that term. It's fucking stupid."

    I was just poking fun at the news calling all blacks (even foreign ones) AA's.

    "I've even heard a couple blacks say they don't like the term African American."

    And I know Indians who hate the term Native American. They're just being selfish, this isn't about them it's about us feeling good!

  • Notorious UGCC||

    I knew an actual African-American, in that she was born in Africa and came to the U.S. Alas, she was white, so how does that work?

  • ||

    The correct term for her is 'cracker'.

  • patskelley||

    The term (insert-race-here)-American implies they are other than American, outside the mainstream. It's an insult and why I don't use the phrase for any (insert-race-here) people.

  • ||

    Damn, I just noticed that the authors name means 'Rapes Horses'!

  • GILMORE™||

    I would expect nothing else from a bunch of cheese-heads

  • Trigger Warning||

    Censoring history gains us nothing. Our exposure to history's mores gives us the perspective we need to improve ourselves in thought and deed.

  • ||

    It makes perfect sense if you're a leftist. Why would they want anyone to see the track record of their ideology, it's fucking abysmal. So I think that's the goal. Eventually all famous Europeans will be turned into villains and Pol Pot and Che Guevara are the heroes.

  • Tak Kak||

    But Che Guevara was a white racist. (Is that a redundant term today?)

  • ||

    Nope, he was born in Argentina. That makes him one of the good 'people of color'. Therefore, it's impossible for him to be a racist. Only white North Americans or white Europeans can be racist. Everyone knows this, duh!

  • Tak Kak||

    I thought when someone said anything racist/sexist/homophobic/transphobic... ever it was proof that they were white all along regardless of ancestry?

  • Trigger Warning||

    JFC, I hope not. Although the number of retards wearing Che shirts has remained depressingly steady.

  • GILMORE™||

    Some of the re-titling has proved more conceptually-complex than others.

    For instance, The Rape of the Sabine Women, is now Typical Roman Fraternity Party

  • Notorious UGCC||

    The heck with you.

  • Notorious UGCC||

  • Notorious UGCC||

  • Notorious UGCC||

  • Notorious UGCC||

  • gaoxiaen||

    The Outside Set at Malibu.

    There aren't 50 characters. I counted them. It's the fucking Raft of the Medusa.

  • gaoxiaen||

    And there is a real surfing painting based on it, but I can't find it.

  • Lee G||

    There is no bottom to this particular hole

  • SugarFree||

    Jefferson Twilight: Yes, I only hunt blaculas.

    Guild Candidate: Oh, so you only hunt African-American vampires?

    Jefferson Twilight: No, sometimes I hunt British vampires. They don't have "African Americans" in England!

    Guild Candidate: Oh yeah, huh, good point.

    Jefferson Twilight: So I hunt blaculas.

    Guild Candidate: I was just trying to be...

    Jefferson Twilight: Man, I specialize in hunting black vampires, I don't know what the P.C. name for that is!

  • ||

    Count Blacula. Good B movie theme.

  • SugarFree||

    He's a cereal killer.

  • Eternal Blue Sky||

    'The curator leading the Rijksmuseum initiative, Martine Gosselink, told the Times that "The point of the project is not to use names given by whites to others." In simple terms she said, "We Dutch are called kaaskops, or cheeseheads, sometimes, and we wouldn't like it if we went to a museum in another country and saw descriptions of images of us as 'kaas kop woman with kaas kop child', and that's exactly the same as what's happening here."'

    Dutch people, you're doing it wrong. Take it from a Wisconsinite, simply EMBRACE the cheesehead label and everything will be fine. Start actually wearing cheese on your heads, learn the secret behind cheese curds, and put a hunk of cheese and a cow on your currency, and everything will be better!! Cheesehead Pride!! Stop hiding in the cheese-closet like a coward.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    He's talking like a Dutch uncle. Let's go get some Dutch treat, which now that I think about it, considering their socially liberal policies, sounds dirty.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Oh, here we go - Andrew Marvell's poem, "The Character of Holland" -

  • Notorious UGCC||

  • bacon-magic||

    Dutch oven...

  • Free Society||

    Some people are into that kind of thing. Don't judge.

  • Free Society||

    Cheese-head? I've never heard that. I've always made fun by telling people that the Dutch have wooden feet.

  • Zeb||

    Umm. Isn't "Dutch" a word that other people gave to Netherlanders?

    And I'm pretty sure "black" is a name given to people of African descent by others just as much as "negro" is.

  • Free Society||

    Yeah sort of. Keep in mind the Germans call themselves Deutsch and some of the Low Saxon speaking Amish call their language 'Dietsch'. If you go back far enough, the pre-Dutch people of the area were calling themselves by some variant of 'Deutsch' but eventually began identifying as 'Nederlanders' as in 'people of the low lands' to differentiate themselves. The people of other cultures kept on calling them by some variant of 'Dutch', likely because all Continental Germanics were sort of lumped together as Dutch/Dietsch/Deutsch et cetera.

  • Akira||

    "We Dutch are called kaaskops, or cheeseheads, sometimes, and we wouldn't like it if we went to a museum in another country and saw descriptions of images of us as 'kaas kop woman with kaas kop child', and that's exactly the same as what's happening here."

    Or you could just, you know, accept that these paintings were created in a much different time and that showcasing them with their original names does not constitute an aggression against any specific demographic. Ya know... Like an adult would do.

  • Empress Trudy||

    I hope they start burning museums and libraries

  • Robert||

    This just occurred to me: In Spanish, do they have to say "black" too?

  • cavalier973||

    Africano-Americano

  • Satyrical||

    Changing the DESCRIPTIONS is fine. In fact, the descriptions SHOULD be regularly updated and rewritten to reflect and conform to the language of the times, as the descriptions are the creation and responsibility of the museum itself and meant solely for the benefit and understanding of its patrons. Changing the TITLE however, is literal whitewashing and historical revisionism, which violates both the consent and intent of the original artist, and should be totally forbidden. It's almost equivalent to painting over the original work.

  • BambiB||

    While they're at it - why don't they paint the little nigger kids white?

    There.

    I've offended everyone.

  • gaoxiaen||

    Not me.

  • woodNfish||

    Watching Western Culture commit suicide is very disturbing.

  • gaoxiaen||

    But somehow satisfying.

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