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Whether what Dr. (Martha) Nesbitt did was right or wrong, I feel her response was to cater to the portion of the community that felt offended by the faculty member's painting.
I heard rumors (and like any rumor, unproven to be truth or not) about threats of every level as a reaction to the painting. I believe that art is a universal language that can be a powerful communication media between cultures and communities. So rather than consider the painting hateful for the symbolism used, I would rather consider it as the interpretation of a member of our community of these symbols, and what these symbols represent to him.
I can see a perfect parallel between the reactions of a faction of a major world religion to the use of verses of its holy book as a part of a nightgown, very popular story in the news some years ago. Thus rather than qualify the painting as full of hate, as I have heard from some, the question should be why the author feels this way about the symbols he used.
Therefore, rather than encouraging hate or confrontation, I believe this is a great opportunity to raise dialogue between two fractions of our community that seem positioned on opposite corners of the table and to discuss in a civilized manner how can we live in harmony and fellowship rather than feed stereotypes, fears and myths we have from each other. So rather than keep asking who threw the first punch, I say let's see who extends an outreaching hand, and we start the dialogue. As a matter of fact, I extend my hand.