Friday, January 2, 2009

Apples Over the Fence: Words from John Adams

John Trumbell was commissioned by Congress in 1817 to paint a portrait of the signing of the Declaration of Independence. It was hung in the Rotunda approximately a decade later.

When Trumbell was preparing to paint the picture the former president, John Adams, offered him some advice:

“Truth, nature, fact should be your sole guide. Let not our posterity be deluded by fictions under the pretence of poetical or graphical license.”

One assumes, given that Trumbell painted a scene that never happened – there was not a single session in which all the signers gathered to affix their signatures to the document – that Adams did not like the painting.

I watched HBO’s John Adams, which is based on David McCullough’s award winning book, on the plane flying home. The movie takes some liberties with the incident, showing Adams railing against Trumbell for painting a scene that never happened.

In fact, according to McCullough, we do not know precisely what Adams thought, but given his admonition to Trumbell one can imagine. Upon my return home I checked McCullough’s book and found Adams’ warning to Trumbell.

Too bad Adam’s eloquence was not recalled by all the people associated with the recent Holocaust memoir, particularly movie producer, Harris Salomon.

Salomon, who contacted Prof. Ken Waltzer’s deans to complain about the fact that he was talking to The New Republic and who attacked me, is attributing the cancellation of Rosenblat’s book to “the worst kind of censorship.” On his Atlantic Overseas Pictures website he writes:

[W]hat I have learned from my long involvement with Mr. Rosenblat and this project which I have come to love, is that American publishing still suffers from the worst kind of censorship.
Censorship? This was an example of the publishing industry correcting one of its failures and acknowledging a mistake.

To make matters even worse, he goes on to link those who criticized the story with Holocaust deniers and to criticize them for "judg[ing]" actions of survivors.

The documented fact, acknowledged by his critics, is that Herman is a survivor of concentration camps… It is indeed unfortunate that so many remain poised to jump on any opportunity to question the occurrence of the Holocaust, and to judge the actions of survivors of that horrific time in history."

With apologies to Joseph Welch, I wonder has this man no sense of decency?

1 comment:

Sharon from WI said...

I get the feeling that Mr. Salomon learned nothing from this whole sorry affair.