Culture and Its Discontents: Contemporary Culture Wars

In response to vociferous cultural debates that engulfed the Guggenheim Museum and other U.S. museums with in-person and online protests, the Guggenheim presented “Culture and Its Discontents” (April 6–7, 2018), a two-day public program examining the causes and effects of this growing phenomenon. The program explored the widening ideological divides in the United States, the impact of the digital sphere on public protest, and the role of museums as open spaces for the exchange of ideas.

“Contemporary Culture Wars”—a conversation moderated by Brian Lehrer, host of WNYC Radio’s daily call-in program „The Brian Lehrer Show“—focused on the political polarization across U.S. cultural institutions, college campuses, and the media. Panelists discussed how cultural institutions can balance the inherent conflict between free expression and hate speech and between creative provocation and moral righteousness. Panelists included Kurt Bardella, columnist for HuffPost, „USA Today,“ and NBC THINK and former spokesperson for Representative Darrell Issa, Senator Olympia Snowe, and Breitbart; Jehmu Greene, television commentator, social-justice champion, and Distinguished Fellow at Barnard College’s Athena Center for Leadership; Angela Nagle, contributing writer for „The Baffler“ and author of „Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars from 4chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right“; and Suzanne Nossel, Executive Director, PEN America.

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