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The Hawkeye

We need to make art, not war

Megan Kirk-Henderson

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The arts are important. Fortunately, I don’t think there are many people who would disagree with that statement. At least, not many sane people. In our culture, we celebrate the arts. They are a channel through which we can express our innermost thoughts and emotions.

Art is what makes us unique, yet still connected to each other in some way.

It helps us grow as people, and it can even save lives. Without music, without the arts, what would happen to the people who rely on it?

That’s the question I would like to pose to President Trump and everyone else who is on board with eliminating the National Endowment for the Arts. Through federal funding, the NEA provides grants and fellowships for arts projects, national initiatives and individuals who have shown exceptional talent in their fields.

What happens to the boy who is an aspiring painter or the girl who dreams of making it to Broadway someday?

Do politicians read literature or watch movies? Do they listen to music? Because that is only a small sample of what art is.

We have always had to fight for art. It has always been underfunded. It has always been the first to be cut when the budget doesn’t look too great. In every school, there has always been this “arts vs. sports” mentality about which program should get tossed out first.

The kids in the art and music programs are always afraid that they will get cut before football, because the arts just don’t make as much money as sports.

So, here we are again with this dilemma. Only this time, Trump wants to cut what little funding the arts and humanities already have so he can increase military spending.

My question is, why?

The U.S. already spends exponentially more tax dollars on its military than any other country in the world. In 2015, we spent more than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the U.K., India, France and Japan spent combined.

The NEA only takes up $146.2 million of our $4 trillion budget. That’s less than 1 percent. Actually, it’s about 0.004 percent. So, how will those funds help the military? It might buy them some new uniforms, I guess.

I’m not knocking people who serve in the armed forces. My dad was in the Navy. Most of the men in my family have served. I’m grateful for everything they do and what they sacrifice to keep us safe. I’m not criticizing them.

I’m criticizing our government’s backward view that an overpowered, oversized military is what we need for our future.

And yes, I understand that eliminating the NEA probably won’t kill arts programs everywhere, immediately. But it will send a message to future generations. Art is life. It’s passion. It’s emotion. It’s defiance.

To take funding away from art is to tell our children and our children’s children that none of that matters. It tells them that military power and strength has a higher value in our culture than the universal language, music. It says that the only way to make peace with our enemies is to crush them.

My plea to President Trump is this: Don’t take away the one thing that many of us need to get through the day.

Our military is big enough as it is. Don’t cut out our culture just because you don’t think it’s necessary or profitable.

Don’t tell our children that war is the only solution to our problems. Keep the arts and humanities, save the future.

Oh, and leave PBS alone too, while you’re at it.

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The Student News Site of University of Louisiana Monroe
We need to make art, not war