History

Trump Declaration Of War On The Arts, Humanities, PBS, National Public Radio, And Woodrow Wilson International Center For Scholars

Donald Trump’s budget proposal is a declaration of war on the arts, humanities and history, undermining artists, museums, and cultural organizations, although the total budget of all cultural institutions supported by federal money is minuscule, just a few hundred million of 1.1 trillion of total annual discretionary spending, about .0003 percent of the budget.

All the creative work of the National Endowment for the Humanities and National Endowment for the Arts would be wiped out, and there would also be elimination of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting which provides funding for PBS and National Public Radio, and of the Woodrow Wilson International Center For Scholars.

So all funding for cultural and educational institutions would be ended, a repudiation of the value of intellectual pursuits, and closing down agencies that have done so much good for America, opening up the eyes and minds of tens of millions of Americans who were educated by the creative work of intellectuals in all fields of the arts and humanities.

We are seeing the suppression of our institutional memory of knowledge.

This move by Trump would repudiate all the good work done in the arts and humanities by Franklin D. Roosevelt during the Great Depression via the Works Projects Administration (WPA) to keep the cultural community alive and thriving.

It also is 52 years since Lyndon B. Johnson made a major commitment to culture and the arts, through the establishment by Congress of the NEH, PBS, NEA, and the Wilson Center.

All decent people must fight this anti intellectualism full throttle!

First Thoughts After The Inauguration: How Nasty, Mean Spirited, And Lacking In Compassion Donald Trump Really Is!

I had said I was taking a day off from commentary, and will write in greater detail tomorrow, but I felt a need to comment just before midnight on Inauguration Day, so here goes!

Donald Trump in just 12 hours has made clear just how nasty, mean spirited, and lacking in compassion he really is!

He claims that he is in the White House for the average American, but he has painted a picture of America which is very dark, very pessimistic, and very lacking in truth.

He claims there is a “carnage” that has gone on, even though Barack Obama presided over more employment gains than any President in history, and starting from a economic disaster known as the Great Recession, and in danger of falling further into another Great Depression!

He claims concern for mothers and children in the “ghettos” in the cities, but has never once indicated what he will do.

He declares “America First” without any understanding of the history of that term.

He has no knowledge or understanding of history or science, as he declares war on the environment, with lack of concern for our children and grandchildren by putting profits ahead of health and safety in the future.

He is basically telling our allies in Europe and Asia to go to hell, and promoting isolationism, protectionism, super nationalism bordering on Fascism.

He talks about America being great again, when it already is, but is willing to destroy all progress accomplished under his predecessor, who he spent five years destroying, and now will put the final nails in the 44th President’s legacy.

He says he cares about the “forgotten people”, but he is taking steps to harm these same people, including many who voted for him.

How can this man sleep at night, have no conscience, and be almost gleeful at destroying all of the great social and economic progress from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama?

It as if the devil is in him, Satan in a way, a man with no ethics, morals, or scruples.

One has to believe in divine retribution in the next world, or “what goes around, comes around”–Karma!

Factual Knowledge Unimportant To Donald Trump: Substance Does Not Matter!

It is very clear that Donald Trump wants to be President, but has not done the “homework” needed, as he, regularly, shows ignorance of basic information about international affairs and foreign policy, and also over simplifies domestic issues that the nation faces.

His lack of knowledge is astounding, with his ignorance shining through his bravado, his bullying, and his ego maniacal behavior in public meetings.

Trump seems to think his charisma and controversial nature can carry him through to victory, but that is not going to work, once we get past the novelty of a businessman, who has never really studied public affairs, as he has always been engaged in “the art of the deal”, as his best selling book is named.

Once in the Oval Office, without any clear and detailed knowledge of what history and political sciences and foreign policy reveal, he is in for a rude awakening, which this nation can ill afford.

Trump may be affronted by being challenged by media who ask him specific questions, but that is far less than the daunting challenges he would face if he became President.

The whole idea that a non politician is qualified to be President is totally preposterous, as would one want a doctor who did not have proper medical training  and knowledge?  Would one want an attorney who had not mastered the law and the Constitution? Would one go to a dentist who did not have expertise to do dental surgery?  Would one wish to hire an accountant to do one’s business or personal taxes, who had no training?  Would a sports team allow someone to be on their team who had no training or proven skills?

Why is it that ignorant people seem to think “anyone” who claims to be qualified , is truly someone we should give power and control over nuclear weapons because they touch a nerve of disillusionment and discontent in the mass of the population?  Is that the way to run a government, to put amateurs in power?

Happy 239th Birthday, America! Lots Of Work To Do For A Better And “More Perfect Union”!

It is hard to believe that we have reached the 239th birthday of the United States, as the author can well remember the bicentennial in 1976, when Gerald Ford was President.

We have come a long way as a nation, but we still have a lot of work to do, including, in no special order:

Working to overcome racism, nativism, misogyny, and homophobia, too widespread in our great nation

Improving our economy so that there are real opportunities for the “American Dream”, and the revival of the middle class, but also concern and action for the poor among us

Dealing with the reality of environmental threats to our planet, and not allowing the deniers of climate change to destroy our future

Coming to grips with foreign threats, particularly, but not only, Islamic terrorism, but realizing the great dangers from domestic terrorism that have caused more deaths and incidents than any other cause of harm to Americans

Working against the promotion of mythology through religion, undermining the truths of science and history

These are the unfinished work that faces America in its future, and the movement toward “a more perfect union”!

Sixth Anniversary Of “The Progressive Professor” And 4,500 Entries!

Today is the sixth anniversary of this blog, and a total of 4,500 entries has been reached on this date!

It has been a pleasure to comment on politics, current affairs, and history for the past six years, and I have been very appreciative of the contributions made by my readers, which have enriched this blog as an information source!

I have made an effort to comment on events on a timely basis, and have tried very hard to avoid missing dates, and while in the beginning, the entries were not on a regular basis, in the past few years, I have had very few dates without at least one entry.

Thanks again to everyone who reads this blog, and I intend to continue this blog for the long run, and welcome you along as I do so, and welcome your comments and analysis!

The Death Of Famed Political Scientist And Historian James MacGregor Burns At Age 95

Sad news has come, that famed political scientist and historian James MacGregor Burns, of Williams College, has passed away at the advanced age of 95.

A professor at Williams College for nearly a half century, and then at the University of Maryland, Burns was the author of some twenty books, as well as a famed textbook in the field of American government, which this author used in his classes over the years, in several different editions.

The first to write a study of his friend, Senator John F. Kennedy, as he was running for President, Burns became most noted for his three volume history of the United States; his two volume study of Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1956 and 1970 (which had a profound effect on this author); a study of the three Roosevelts (Franklin, Eleanor, and Theodore); studies of Congress; and also analysis of the Supreme Court. He won the Pulitzer Prize in History and the National Book Award for his second volume on FDR (The Soldier of Freedom) in 1971.

There are few scholars in political science and history who have had the massive effect on those fields that Burns had, so he will be missed, but also remembered for his tremendous contributions.

The Attack On Teacher Tenure An Attack On Education Itself!

The decision of a California judge against teacher tenure in California is the alarm bell of attacks on public education, and really, educational standards itself!

There is no question that there are people in the teaching profession who should not be allowed to keep their jobs, due to incompetence, inappropriate behavior in the classroom, and refusal to update their skills and motivation to work.

There is, certainly, a need to give administrators the power to remove such teachers from the classroom and the profession, and therefore, there is a need for reform of tenure.

But the sweeping decision in California will promote right wing attacks on education itself, and will have deleterious effects as follows:

Veteran teachers who are at the top of the pay and benefits scale, after many years of hard work and dedication, could be forced out of the profession simply based on cost factors.

The ability of teachers to have academic freedom will be compromised, and it will discourage innovation and new ideas, out of fear of antagonizing administrators and parents.

The promotion of religion over science will be accelerated, creating a future of ignorance on the challenges that face us, and promoting instead a concept of obedience to the literal interpretation of the Bible, which already, one third of the American people believe in as fact.

The promotion of a flag waving patriotism, which sweeps historical reality and fact under the rug, and ignores the truth of our shortcomings and mistakes, is the promotion of a dangerous nationalism, which advocates the greatness of America, while showing lack of respect and knowledge of the rest of world history and civilization. This will also discourage the study of foreign languages and cultures, further isolating America from world affairs knowledge and understanding.

The movement to privatize education makes it a profit making institution, which education should not be, and will condemn generations of students to right wing propaganda, including attack on the institution of labor unions itself, which made America a middle class society, but now in danger of becoming an autocracy ruled by the top one percent of billionaires and millionaires for their own aggrandizement!

The Triumph Of Science Over Ignorance In Texas

Great news that the Texas State Board of Education has voted to approve science textbooks based on established science for the next decade, a massive victory over the forces of ignorance which attempted to promote religion in place of science in the curriculum, and wanted to deny the facts of evolution and global warming and climate change.

Since Texas has such a large student population, the decisions of the state board have a great effect not only on the Lone Star State, but also on the textbook materials used across the nation, as publishers shape their editorial plans on what Texas does.

But now the influence of the religious Right is still threatened over the teaching of Social Studies, including the study of American history and world history.

David Barton and his right wing forces, which claim to be historians when they are not any such thing, wish to cut down attention paid to ethnic minorities, women, labor, and the study of great reforms and reformers throughout history, and to promote the concept that religion was advocated as part of government by the Founding Fathers, when that is a total myth!

And also, they wish to promote the idea that we are a greater nation than any in the world, taking away attention from world civilizations, as if we magically became the nation we are, despite the fact that we have been influenced by cultures and influences from around the world.

So the battle for knowledge over ignorance and prejudice has won in the battle for science, but now must continue the good fight for the the legitimacy of history in the curriculum and the textbooks!

The Los Angeles Times And Climate Change Deniers: Kudos To That Newspaper!

The Los Angeles Times has decided to go on the offensive in a way that is very admirable!

It has decided it will NOT allow climate change deniers to use its website to continue to promote something that is well understood by scientists, and intelligent people in general, to be totally false, and destructive of dealing with the future of our planet.

Instead of stating that all viewpoints are equal, facts are being used, and ridiculous opinions will not see the light of day in that newspaper.

It is time for mainstream media to stop allowing extremist propaganda on science to be treated as a respectable viewpoint, and for religion to be restricted to the faiths involved, not to totally outrageous and false ideas as being fact, when they are not.

And the same applies to those who deny evolution. Let right wing media distort reality, but respectable media should NOT give any support to such viewpoints that have no basis for being considered valid.

We are in a struggle in which mainstream media has allowed the right wing to take over and poison not only science, but also history, economics, and innumerable other areas of human knowledge with their extremist propaganda. This must stop, and no attention paid to protests, as the answer is go to to other media, which have no respectability in the sensible, intelligent community, if they wish to learn falsehoods and lies!

So it is time for the New York Times, Washington Post, other prestigious newspapers, CNN, and the major television networks (ABC, NBC, CBS), and other respectable media to join together and preserve truth over lies and falsehoods!

And threats to boycott these media and threaten them economically should be defied by them as the only way to keep their legitimacy as a news source. This is a battle for the minds and hearts of future generations, and concessions to the right wing cannot be made in this eternal struggle for the truth!

National Spelling Bee Champion Brings Up Issue Of Our Educational System NOT Teaching Spelling As Important Skill!

It was thrilling to see 13 year old Arvind Mahankali of Bayside, New York, win the National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC on Thursday evening.

His accomplishment, and the fact that he had competed three earlier years and been in the Top Ten all three times, is something to honor and admire, as much as any athlete doing well in any team or individual sport.

But does such an accomplishment get the kind of attention it deserves, as compared to sports? Of course not, and in that, there is a problem that needs to be addressed.

It is not “cool” to be smart, to be intellectual, to have academic skills, and it might very well be that this talented young man, for all that he has accomplished, might face bullying or taunting, as not being “masculine” enough, because his accomplishment is in that lost art, spelling.

But it is not just spelling; it is also history; it is also science; it is also geography; it is also poetry; it is also ANY intellectual area of knowledge!

And in that fact, we have a long range problem. And it is in the loss of economic growth, competition with other nations, and in the future of our children.

Why is not spelling emphasized in the school system, and why is it allowed that young people, including many of my own students in the past and present, cannot spell, and do not see that weakness as a big deal they need to work on?

Why is it that ignorance is seen as bliss, and that we have people in Congress who display their ignorance regularly, showing their lack of knowledge or acceptance of science, of truth really in any area of learning, and in fact, wish to cut expenditures and investment in education and in teachers?

And as wonderful as it was to see boys and girls of South Asian heritage being the top ten finalists, why is it that white Anglos of European heritage, and Hispanics-Latinos and African American young people did not end up competing with these kids from South Asia, and often in the past, from East Asia as well?

Could it be the role of parents, emphasizing spelling and history and science and geography and poetry and other fields of learning at home, and could it be also the fact that education is the way that past generations of immigrants and their descendants succeeded in America?

We, as a nation, need to look within ourselves, and work to promote the levels of excellence that these children of South Asian heritage demonstrated, putting the rest of us to shame!

Ultimately, we must praise and give honors and attention more to academic excellence than our worship of sports, as good as it is to promote that field of human endeavor!