The election of Donald Trump in America has been the site of many controversial policy additions, changes and abolishments. His campaign was a continuous smear of previous administration failings and Hillary Clinton scandal reminders that rallied Americans together in a shared and inflated hysteria that resulted in his election as the 45th President of the USA. He has been very open and vocal against any news organization or reporter that speaks out against him and has gone as far as to tell CNN that “[he thinks they’d] do much better by being different.” (Transcript: President Trump’s exchange with CNN’s Jim Acosta) “Different” referring to being more “pro-Trump.”
Trump is notorious for his unstructured, seat-of-his-pants rants during speeches and press conferences. He is very obviously not a creative individual, and doesn’t seem to know how to articulate his thoughts and ideas in a cohesive manner which results in incomprehensible ramblings that never really answer a question or come to a point. Perhaps he would have benefited from some creative writing classes among his electives at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business. His hatred for free speech and the arts is apparent in the way he talks about reporting, and complains about photos and memes of himself that are circulating on the web. But his latest attack on creativity and self-expression is deeply concerning.
It’s been recently announced that Trump plans to abolish the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA is a federal agency “[that] promotes arts education and access to the arts, bringing ballet classes to kids in inner cities and rural areas and sponsoring writing classes for veterans.” (Lee) (read more about the NEA at (https://www.arts.gov) Without the funding that this agency provides, artists and artistic agencies, museums and schools will suffer and access to the arts for many Americans will cease or at least become extremely difficult. By cutting this funding, Trump is essentially telling Americans that he doesn’t support creativity, free-thought, or self-expression while trying to disguise it as frugality by saying that there is no room in the budget for it.
So here’s what I think about this whole mess… I believe that attacking funding for arts access and education is a good first step toward an authoritarian regime. The one thing that stands in the way of Trump having complete control over America is free-speech and individual expression. Trump has already begun excluding certain races and religions from being openly included in the American culture and is now moving on to limit what “American Culture” can be defined as. We also learn a lot about other cultures in the past and present through exhibitions of ancient art, which is also under threat of being buried under this bureaucratic bullshit. Art in all it’s forms is essential to free-speech, free-thought, expression of opinion, and communication across generations. Art is used by people as a form of entertainment and intellectual expression often touching on political issues and issues of concern. Artistic expression of these views or concerns shows the emotional impact of the political sphere on the people of the world. Shutting down reporters at press conferences, having them removed altogether and calling any reporting against him “fake news” along with this new addition of restricting free-speech and expression is all pointing toward a very concerning path toward totalitarianism. Trump has said previously, many times, that America should be run like a business with himself as the boss. Unfortunately businesses are not democracies, which is something that many Americans (and Canadians) fought for and gave their lives to protect. And what will be left to tell the stories of those people who died for freedom? Art. Books, paintings, movies, poetry, songs and verbal stories are what will be left of the many lives given to protect what Trump is actively trying to destroy.
What do you think about this attack on funding for access to, and education in the arts?
Do you think Trump is actively trying to create a state of authoritarianism in America?
How far do you think the American people will let Trump go with restrictions on free-press and freedom of speech/expression?
How important do you feel art is to our personal/national identities and could we live without it?
Let me know your thoughts and opinions on the state of free-speech and expression in the comments section below.
Check out the articles I mentioned above for more information on the NEA and Trump’s plans to dismantle it.
CNNMoney, “Transcript: President Trump’s exchange with CNN’s Jim Acosta”, CNN, accessed 23 February 2017. http://cnnmon.ie/2lcdY20
Lee, Marie Myung-Ok, “Why does Donald Trump want to eliminate the NEA and public funding for the arts?”, Quartz, https://qz.com/917312, Accessed 23 February 2017.
National Endowment for the Arts, https://www.arts.gov