Lotta statoos

So Trump was playing with his toy trucks before it was time to get on the chop-chop to the Big Plane to the Faces Rock, and he was having ever such a nice fantasy about building a huge Disneyland kind of thing all full of the best Americans ever, like Donald Trump and Billy Graham and the guy who invented graham crackers and some crackers in uniforms and people like that.

Among the combative and unusual ways President Trump chose to celebrate Independence Day, some historians were particularly puzzled Saturday by his announcement for a new monument called the “National Garden of American Heroes” populated by a grab bag of historical figures chosen by his administration.

Well not puzzled so much. The Post is always so polite, but really the historians were more rolling their eyes than puzzled.

The garden, Trump explained in a Friday night speech at Mount Rushmore, was part of his response to the movement to remove Confederate statues and racially charged iconography across the country.

“Angry mobs are trying to tear down statues of our founders, deface our most sacred memorials and unleash a wave of violent crime in our cities,” Trump said. “This attack on our liberty, our magnificent liberty, must be stopped.”

Well now that raises a question, doesn’t it, because how are statues that celebrate generals who defended slavery a symbol of “our magnificent liberty”? Unless by “our” he doesn’t actually mean “our” [as Americans] but “our” [as white Americans]. I know, I know; of course that’s what he means. The South seceded in order to hang on to its “magnificent liberty” to keep people enslaved so that they [the enslavers] could continue to get rich growing cotton. Their magnificent liberty, other people’s slavery. Trump is angrily defending that version of “magnificent liberty.”

In response, Trump said he plans to build “a vast outdoor park that will feature the statues of the greatest Americans to ever live.” Among the statues to be erected in the garden — spelled out in an executive order — are evangelical leader Billy Graham, 19th-century politician Henry Clay, frontiersman Davy Crockett, first lady Dolley Madison and conservative Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia.

Other must haves: George Wallace, Byron De La Beckwith, James Jordan and Wayne Roberts, James Earl Ray, Thomas Dixon Jr, Gregory and Travis McMichael, George Zimmerman, Derek Chauvin…Gee it’s a long list, it will have to be a massive space.

“It’s just so random. It’s like they threw a bunch of stuff on the wall and just went with whatever stuck,” said Karen Cox, a history professor at University of North Carolina at Charlotte, after struggling for several minutes to describe the order outlining the proposed monument. “Nothing about this suggests it’s thoughtful.”

Well. They don’t do thoughtful. That seems to be pretty much the whole point of them.

“The tragedy is an undertaking like this could actually be a good idea if serious,” said Sean Wilentz, a history professor at Princeton University. “You could engage artists who are hurting for work right now. You could be innovative and really rethink the idea of what it means to memorialize things and how we do that. You could even break out of the whole classical/neoclassical forms we’ve been stuck in when it come statues. But I don’t think that’s what Trump has in mind.”

No, I don’t think it is either.

In the executive order, Trump says all statues will be lifelike or realistic, “not abstract or modernist representations.”

Ah now there is the true Hitler note. Museum of Degenerate Art much?

In the first decades of the 20th century, radical new art flourished in Germany. Established museums collected and exhibited contemporary work by Max Beckmann, Ernst Ludwig Kirchner, Paul Klee, and others, introducing them to a wide international audience that included Alfred H. Barr, Jr., MoMA’s founding director. After Adolf Hitler was appointed chancellor in January 1933, Nazi agencies began to dismantle this progressive collection policy. In the years that followed, the Nazis removed more than 20,000 artworks from state-owned museums. In 1937, 740 modern works were exhibited in the defamatory show Degenerate Art in Munich in order to “educate” the public on the “art of decay.” The exhibition purported to demonstrate that modernist tendencies, such as abstraction, are the result of genetic inferiority and society’s moral decline. An explicit parallel, for example, was drawn between modernism and mental illness.

That’s what is squatting in the Oval Office these days.

3 Responses to “Lotta statoos”

Leave a Comment

Subscribe without commenting