If all the misguided actions of the narcissistic, racist and sexist, pathological liar now squatting in the Oval Office were colors, then we’d be drowning in an ugly, pulsating mass of colors so intense that we would be struck blind. His latest outrageous misstep can be found in his proposed federal budget.
What should we be most concerned about when we see the list of cuts? Because I have a sincere hope that the human species will not become extinct in the next 100 years, I’d say my first concern is the 31% cut in the Environmental Protection Agency. The EPA is now run by a greedy lackey for the fossil fuel industry who seems have the scientific knowledge of a toad. Nah, I take that back. Most toads fit into their ecosystems with more awareness and respect than does Scott Pruitt. Or maybe we should be concerned about the cuts that eliminate 62 federal agencies, among them support for literacy programs, home weatherization for the poor, Wheels on Meals for the elderly, support for national heritage and wildlife areas, legal aid programs, employment programs, occupational safely programs, arts and culture programs (National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Institute of Museum and Library Services), and Big Bird.
That last one, Big Bird, represents the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB). After my concern for human assaults on our environment, I guess I’d have to say that I have a deep and abiding respect and concern for the work of CPB which includes PBS (Public Broadcast System), NPR (National Public Radio) and Sesame Street. I watch The News Hour on the PBS every day, and I listen to National Public Radio daily, too. Both news outlets report facts, not fake news. If you want to hear fake news, listen to Trump or his lackey Sean Spicer. NPR and PBS News Hour have balanced reports that give both sides of the issue under discussion. This kind of balanced, factual reporting is an absolute fundamental foundation of a democracy. In order to be good citizens and make good decisions, we must get our news from unbiased, professional and ethical news sources. As the Washington Post mast says, “Democracy dies in darkness.”
CPB also means Big Bird and his friends – Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster, and the newest friend, autistic Julia – won’t be there for another generation of kids. Also what about those wonderful British shows we’ve see on Sunday evenings for years, among them Prime Suspect, Dr. Who, Sherlock, Downton Abbey, Planet Earth, Poldark, Foyle’s War….and so many more, will we have to move to London to see them now? And then there’s jazz in the evenings on KUAZ, and the BBC in the middle of the night informing us of what’s going on from Beijing to Buenos Aires….will those broadcasts disappear, too? And David Yetman’s The Desert Speaks? and Arizona Illustrated?
Get the picture? Things are pretty bleak and will get worse if anything even vaguely like this budget passes. And what do we get in return? Oh yeah. We get a wall that costs up to $31 billion, bringing with it the pretense that our “national security” is enhanced.
By the way, the title “And Then They Came for Big Bird” is from an article in the Daily Beast (cited below). But it refers also to this quotation from an earlier time when another fascist was in power. Martin Niemöller (1892–1984) was a Protestant pastor who opposed Adolf Hitler and spent seven years in a Nazi concentration camp. He wrote these words.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out--
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
It’s time for us all to get involved and speak out. I’ve already contacted Senator McCain’s, Senator Flake’s, and Congresswoman McSally’s offices several times. Maybe if you can, too, if we all call and remind them that they work for us, and yes, we do want clean air and water, and yes, we do want Big Bird and his pals to stay on the air, and yes, we do want art and poetry and libraries, then maybe they will listen. If not, elections are on the horizon.
And then they came for Big Bird
Trump wants to cut the NEA and NEH. This is the worst-case scenario for arts groups
The 62 agencies and programs Trump wants to eliminate
C.J. Shane is the publisher and editor of Sonoran Arts Network. She is an artist and writer. Visit her website at www.cjshane.com to learn more about her.