Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. once addressed the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters on the role of public support for the arts. He adapted his speech as an opinion piece for the New York Times on September 20, 1985. Here is a link to the full article which is worth revisiting at this time when the not-my-president (NMP) seems determined to gut public support of the arts. The NMP knows that such cuts would appeal to the rural redneck racist population that elected him because they, for the most part, could not care less about the arts but would derive some satisfaction out of seeing cuts that especially hurt the liberal-oriented metropolitan areas where the highest appreciation for the arts traditionally resides.
Schlesinger's remarks, especially those below, seem worthy of being etched in stone and preserved. Does anyone do that anymore or is it a lost art?
"If history tells us anything, it tells us that the United States, like all other nations, will be measured in the eyes of posterity less by the size of its gross national product and the menace of its military arsenal than by its character and achievement as a civilization."
. . . .
"For painters, composers, writers, film-makers, sculptors, architects, orchestras, museums, libraries, concert halls, opera houses contribute indispensably to the pride and glory of the nation. They are crucial to the forming of national traditions and to the preservation of civic cohesion."
. . . .
"Both Lincoln and Roosevelt, (John F.) Kennedy said, 'understood that the life of the arts, far from being an interruption, a distraction, in the life of a nation, is very close to the center of a nation's purpose - and is a test of the quality of a nation's civilization.' "
. . . .
''Great nations,'' said John Ruskin, ''write their autobiographies in three manuscripts - the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others; but of the three the only quite trustworthy one is the last. The acts of a nation may be triumphant by its good fortune; and its words mighty by the genius of a few of its children; but its art only by the general gifts and common sympathies of the race.''
Where is the Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. of this day?