At least two of those words are dog whistles: American (obviously), and museum.
Actually, Whitney is close to Whitey, so make it three:
Remarks by The First Lady at Opening of the Whitney Museum
You see, there are so many kids in this country who look at places like museums and concert halls and other cultural centers and they think to themselves, well, that’s not a place for me, for someone who looks like me, for someone who comes from my neighborhood. In fact, I guarantee you that right now, there are kids living less than a mile from here who would never in a million years dream that they would be welcome in this museum.
And growing up on the South Side of Chicago, I was one of those kids myself. So I know that feeling of not belonging in a place like this.
What the hell?
And that’s one of the reasons why Barack and I, when we first came to Washington, we vowed to open up the White House to as many young people as possible, especially those who ordinarily wouldn’t have a chance to visit. So just about every time we host any kind of cultural event, a concert or performance, we ask the performers to come a few hours early and host a special workshop just for our young people.
The message we’re trying to send is simple. We’re telling our young people: The White House is your house. You belong here just as much as anyone else in this country. We’re telling them: Make yourselves at home in this house. Be inspired by the artists and performers you see. And start dreaming just a little bigger, start reaching just a little higher for yourself.
Aren’t you special!
To be fair, after putting down great collections of art and building up herself, the First Lady had a larger point:
And with this inaugural exhibition, the Whitney is really sending the same message to young people and to people of every background across this country. You’re telling them that their story is part of the American story, and that they deserve to be seen. And you’re sending that message not just with the art you display, but with the educational programming you run here. You’re reaching out to kids from all backgrounds, exposing them to the arts, showing them that they have something to contribute.
And in the end, that’s why I’m here today, and I know that’s why we’re all here today. I’m here because I believe so strongly in that mission, and because I think that every cultural institution in this country should be doing this kind of outreach and engagement with our young people every single day.
So what I want to ask those out there watching — absolutely — (applause) — if you run a theater or a concert hall, make sure you’re setting aside some free tickets for our young people. If you run a museum, make sure that you’re reaching out to kids in struggling communities. Invite them in to see those exhibits. Can you use technology to bring those exhibits to kids in remote areas who would never, ever be exposed to art otherwise?
Many museums I know of have a voluntary donation rate, or at least a super-cheap student rate. And they all have outreach programs. But fair enough: do all you can to bring great art to the citizens of the cities in which the museums lie. Got it.
Then she loses me:
One visit, one performance, one touch, and who knows how you could spark a child’s imagination. As the Mayor said, maybe you could inspire a young person to rise above the circumstances of their life and reach for something better. Maybe you could discover the next Carmen Herrera or Archibald Motley or Edward Hopper — or, yes, maybe even the next Barack Obama. (Applause.)
This is the re-opening of a museum, not a campaign rally. Shut up.
What’s Barack Obama’s artistic talent (besides building straw men)? Of course, when I think of Motley, I think of Obama. I can think of about 500 people at the Whitney off the top of my head—from Nicholas Africano to Akram Zaatari—I’d rather hear about than Barack and Michelle Obama and their special selves.
PS: If you’d asked, Mrs. O., you would know that the Whitney is way ahead of you.