Monday, September 28, 2009

Supression of the Arts

Is it any surprise that people on the far left and far right want to suppress the arts?

In 1937, the government of Nazi Germany held two bizarre art exhibits in Munich. The "Great German Art" exhibition opened in the new House of German Art, which was built to look like a huge Greek temple.

This exhibit was launched with a rousing speech by Nazi leader Adolf Hitler and a lavish parade with people dressed as Greek gods and goddesses. The exhibit housed what the Nazis proclaimed as the best art in Nazi Germany. They believed this art showed that Third Reich could produce art that rivaled the ancient Greeks.

A few hundred yards away, the Nazis held the second exhibit in a small building. In nine rooms, they crammed nearly 700 paintings and sculptures created by German artists. On the walls, they scrawled words insulting the works. This exhibit housed what they called "Degenerate Art," art that the Nazis believed was harmful and repugnant. Modern, or avant-garde, art filled these rooms. The exhibit was meant to hold modern art up to public ridicule.

The Nazis placed the two exhibits near each other so people could compare them. The Great German Art exhibit showed the kind of art approved of by the Nazi state. The Degenerate Art exhibit showed the kind of art that the Nazi state prohibited. The exhibits were part of an incredible Nazi campaign to put art under control of the state.

Of interest, the GOP made a big issue of a $50 million dollar appropriation for the National Endowment of the Arts during the Economic Stimulus debate.

"There is absolutely no way this will stimulate the economy," argues Brian Riedl, a senior federal budget analyst for the Heritage Foundation. He believes funding for the NEA — like several other items in the stimulus package — will not grow the economy.

"The only way to increase economic growth is to increase productivity," Riedl says. "Government policies that make people and workers more productive will increase productivity.

Michael Kaiser, head of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, says the arts industry is made up of thousands of small organizations, so they don't always make headlines when they go bankrupt.

"The arts as a totality in this country employs 5.7 million people," Kaiser says, "so we're not a small sector of this economy. Our employment levels are important to this economy."

Artists, writers and musicians often have a progressive view of America and artists are willing to express dissenting views in their work. Both the far left and far right look at atists and writers as a threat to the status quo. This is why art and music have long been suppressed by totalitarian governments.

A good example of the animosity between musicians and the GOP occurred during the 2008 elections. the music group 'Heart' did not want Sarah Palin to use its song 'Barracuda' in the campagn.

Singer Jackson Browne also won a copyright battle against Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), getting an apology and an undisclosed sum of money from the 2008 presidential nominee for a pro-McCain Web video that appropriated the artist's hit song "Running On Empty."

McCain, the Republican National Committee and the Ohio Republican Party jointly settled the lawsuit and issued a statement saying:

"We apologize that a portion of the Jackson Browne song 'Running On Empty' was used without permission. Although Senator McCain had no knowledge of, or involvement in, the creation or distribution of the Web campaign video, Senator McCain does not support or condone any actions taken by anyone involved in his 2008 presidential election campaign that were inconsistent with artists' rights or the various legal protections afforded to intellectual property."

Of course, Republicans are not against all art and music. Many Republicans prefer the music of bygone eras like the Big Bands of the 1940s. They also like the traditional art of Norman Rockwell, particularly if it has an American flag in the painting, something that a serous artist would consider a cliché. Did you notice the ethnic diversity in this painting?



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