Open Letter to the U.S. Department of Arts and Culture*
The problem with state-sponsored, or pseudo-state sponsored, culture is ALWAYS Soviet in nature. The problem with Cultural Apparatchik Agents is always their inability to think out of that box… their status as CAAs depends on it! They tend to be overly gregarious and lacking in individual spirit and courage to buck state-approved art & culture, now PC-restricted in nature. Will your organization seek to counter the official US Department of Arts & Culture, the National Endowment for the Arts, which would never support my art and writing, or just seek to milk money out of it? You note that your newly appointed 17 CAAs will undergo two months of training. How I’d love to receive a report on what precisely that training will consist of. Will it include sensitivity training with regards the importance of DIVERSITY, not of superficial color and ethnicity, but rather of viewpoints? Will it include training to help CAAs build sufficient spine so they might actually encourage, rather than outright reject, criticism of the organization and the CAAs themselves? Will the CAA closest to me, David Kimball (Marlborough, MA), be trained to fight for freedom of speech and expression and otherwise help artists like me who have been ostracized due to candid criticism of organizations in his area, including PEN New England, Massachusetts Poetry Festival, Massachusetts Cultural Council, and Boston National Poetry Month? You note: “You don't have to be a legal citizen of the United States to be a Citizen Artist with the USDAC! You don't have to be an artist either! Just someone committed to helping cultivate the empathy and imagination we need to create the world we wish to inhabit...” Yet that world is likely not the one that I and other staunch individual free-thinking artist and writer “enemies of the people” would wish to inhabit! Recall how the Soviets labeled those who questioned and challenged the regime and state culture as “enemies of the people.” Recall how artists and writers who did that were sent to gulag concentration camps! My fear is that the world you wish to create would be an ideologically-driven, brave-new-world of censorship, groupthink, obligatory positivism, and absence of real freedom of speech and expression. Sadly that world already seems to be taking shape. Your goal of “creative social change” is perhaps a frightening one, reminiscent of Cuba’s “creative social change” and Tim Wise’s racist White Privilege movement. No thanks, methinks! Finally, the smiley-face that your missive seems to have stamped upon your organization resounds a bit childish, you know, like the “Hope and Change” mantra that resulted in more of the same. Moreover, why are you apparently unaware that VIGOURGOUS DEBATE, like I’ve tried in vain to instigate with you, is in fact a cornerstone of democracy, though not a cornerstone of authoritarian Soviet-like regimes?
*This organization is not part of the US government, despite its name. However, it is as unresponsive (unaccountable) as any other organization of the US government, so it might as well be part of it...