A True American Monument to Trumpian Times

tags: monuments, Mount Rushmore

Lawrence Weschler was a staff writer at the New Yorker for 20 years and then the director of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU. He has authored more than 20 books, the latest of which, in collaboration with the artist David Opdyke, is This Land: An Epic Postcard Mural on the Future of a Country in Ecological Peril (due out in September from Monacelli/Phaedon).

As for my own fantasized Rushmore 2.0, perhaps the Lakota would be more amenable to this version than they were the first time around, since the project would be aimed at addressing our common future, maybe half a century from now, and represent a graven missive from our own time to our progeny’s, an attempt to account for the botched and blighted world we’ll likely have bequeathed them by then.

Rather than gazing off with visionary zeal toward some divinely sanctioned manifest destiny, as in the original, the foursome on my Mount Rushmore 2.0 would be lined up in a pillory stockade, each with his downcast face bracketed by similarly yoked hands. (The encasing yoke-planks would be meticulously carved into that granite cliff as well.) These would be the four men (and yes, of course, they would all be white men) from our era who, perhaps more than any others, could be deemed responsible for the dire endgame into which the world by that time might well have plunged: Four men who had the resources and intelligence to have known better but instead chose to swap out the long-term fate of their grandchildren (and the rest of the human progeny) in relentless pursuit of short-term profit and power.

The way I envision it, the first slot on that mountain would be reserved for media baron Rupert Murdoch who, by way of his News Corp empire, so single-handedly poisoned the well of public discourse with denial and obfuscation, not only in the United States, but in Britain as well as in his native Australia (where he controls 60% of all daily newspaper sales). For that matter, his damage extends globally, thanks to Fox News, the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, the Sun, the News of the World, and their ilk (and recently, he even chose to solidify his malign record by installing his ideologically matched son Lachlan atop the firm’s line of succession in conspicuous stead of his more circumspect and reportedly reform-minded son James).

The next slot over should surely go to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. After all, across a single crucial decade -- and how long can scientists and others keep insisting that we only have 10 or 12 years left to avert planetary ecological calamity before those years run out? -- he managed to upend virtually every effort of the Obama administration, no matter how deeply inadequate, to deal with the burning of fossil fuels. Then he abetted every anti-ecological, anti-climate-change initiative of the Trump administration, with immediate short-term benefits to his billionaire (often fossil-fueled) donors. Meanwhile, he succeeded in packing the courts with similarly blinkered reactionaries as a way of forestalling future efforts to reverse any of this.

And no, Donald J. Trump wouldn’t even come close to qualifying for the third spot on that cliffside commemorative relief. The candidates, after all, would have to demonstrate enough intellectual bandwidth to grasp, however faintly, the stakes involved, and Trump demonstrably lacks any grasp whatsoever of the future he’s leaving our children and their children. In any case, his hands are way too small. They’d keep slipping out of the stockade’s granite boreholes and, as for his hair, how could any sculptor, no matter how gifted, be expected to reproduce such a mare’s nest? Moreover, merely excluding him from such dubious company should be enough to provoke a veritable tweet storm of umbrage, which could, at least, provide the rest of us with a tad of dark entertainment across these dismal times, even if the project itself never advanced to the chiseling stage.

Read entire article at TomDispatch

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