The day before Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of the United States – an actual event taking place in the universe we live in – news broke that his administration plans to eliminate the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities. And I wanted to scream.
This is Donald Trump’s America: one where things like art and books and science and learning and thoughtful consideration of complicated problems are deemed worthless and tossed aside. This can’t be surprising after the Trump we saw on the campaign trail, the man who never answered a question with a hint of intelligence or depth. In an interview this week, he couldn’t name a single book he’s reading. He’s appointed a secretary of education who wants to destroy public schools. He reportedly offered a notorious anti-vaccination activist a position leading a commission investigating vaccines. He called global warming a Chinese hoax.
Of course he’s getting rid of the NEA and the NEH. What use does Donald Trump have for the things that make life beautiful and good? He surrounds himself with gilded ugliness. He’s a billionaire who hangs a Renoir reproduction in the $100 million abattoir he lives in, because why would he want an original? He has enough money and fame to access to the finest tailors in the world, and his suits don’t fit. His hair is stupid.
I know, I’m petty. I’m a snob. I’m a liberal elitist, and elitist liberal snobbery is why Trump won. You know what? I don’t care. I’m tired of shouldering the burden of cultural empathy when no one asks the folks who voted for the racist, misogynist manbaby to take two damn seconds to consider the moral implications of putting an ignorant pussy-grabber into the most powerful job on the planet.
We have a president who doesn’t read books. He doesn’t read books. Even George W. Bush read books, and he still managed to destroy the economy and entangle us in two unwinnable wars. What horrors will Trump visit upon the nation and the world? How will he change America for the worse?
Of course Donald Trump wants to destroy the government’s (frankly meager) efforts to promote the humanities and the arts. It’s not just that those things have never made the slightest impact on his life. (Imagine having a thoughtful discussion with Donald Trump about a piece of art. A painting. A song. A poem.) The arts and humanities are tools for getting at the truth of things. Trump hates the truth. He drapes himself in comforting lies about everything from the size of his hands to the size of his Electoral College victory. He doesn’t just lie constantly, he labels the truth a lie, the tellers liars.
We won’t fund public art programs, but we’ll have Breitbart in the White House briefing room. We won’t fund historical preservation projects or cultural explorations, but the president will attack journalists on Twitter.
Trump doesn’t have plans to make America great again; he’s going to remake America in his own image. He thinks art means plaster statues of eagles that look like they came out of SkyMall. He thinks news comes from Morning Joe and Fox & Friends. He separates books into two categories: those with his face on the cover and those without. (He doesn’t read either kind.)
Trump doesn’t represent a shift to the right; this is more cataclysmic than a simple change of party. Donald Trump represents the dark side of human nature: ugliness, ignorance and fear. He wants to build a giant wall, an act contrary to the idea of art. He won on the promise of banning a religion from immigrating, a rejection not just of an entire culture but of the idea of culture itself.
This is our new president: a man who revels in rejecting truth and anything that helps us find it. He wants to make America look more like him. We can’t let that happen.
More than 50 House members, representing more than 10 percent of Congress, have said they’ll skip this week’s festivities.