Got a question for you …
… Let’s say you are a remarkable person in some way. Someone who has, over a lifetime of career accomplishment, contributed greatly to whatever profession you happen to have chosen. Sports, music, science, education, acting … doesn’t matter. It only matters that you have been very good at it. You could be a great historian, a great architect, a great philanthropist, a great cellist, a great diplomat. You might have etched your name forever in the Baseball Hall of Fame, the Philosophy Hall of Fame, the Comedian’s Hall of Fame, the Mathematician’s Hall of Fame, whatever. Whatever it is you have spent your life doing, you did a bang-up job at it, and now you are known across the land, perhaps around the world, as a premier example of what you do. You have risen so high in the estimation of not only your peers, but among all peoples, whether they understand your contributions to Humanity or not, that when there is mention of your particular field, your name is the first most people think of.
Furthermore, let’s say that it’s that time of the year—specifically, the year 2017—to select the recipients for the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and you are among the chosen. You will be expected to go to the nation’s capitol, dress up fancy, and let the President of the United States latch a ribbon around your neck in appreciation for what you have brought to our world.
And lastly, let us say that the person who will be awarding you this distinguished honor—incidentally, the highest such honor that America awards a civilian—is President … President … pardon me, but I can’t … won’t … be using the word “president” in conjunction with the name of you-know-who. Not now, not ever. It would be an insult to 44 other presidents, most of whom actually deserved the title.
However, I’m certain that you … such a genius within your chosen profession as you are … catch my drift, and that you already know the question I am asking.
Would you let that miserable cursed sonofabitch pin a medal on you?
The question came as I was reviewing the list of luminaries to whom President Obama awarded the medal a couple of weeks ago. The more famous among them—Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Robert De Niro, Robert Redford, Ellen DeGeneres, Tom Hanks, Bruce Springstein—each one an undeniably striking presence in our popular culture, and each a dominating feature on the friendly face America shows most of the world.
Now, can you imagine any one of these people willingly contributing—if only as fodder for photo ops—to the travesty of a Trump administration? Can you imagine they would allow themselves to play along with the pretense that the corrupt prick has the moral authority to bestow an essentially moral honorific on anyone? Can you imagine that they would aid and abet in any scheme to make the bastard appear to be a legitimate leader of any nation, let alone a great one?
I’d like to think they wouldn’t. I believe what makes the individuals named above the popular favorites that they are is a steadfast integrity and an inherent kindness that goes beyond their public celebrity. In fact, unlike so many celebrities, these six are celebrities as much for the benevolence and humanitarianism they have shown as they are for whatever they’ve done on the varied stages of their careers. That’s why they were chosen for the Presidential Medal of Freedom over so many other celebs of equal talent—for the qualities of their souls as much as the qualities of their works.
So now think about this: What sort of specimens do we suppose the prick might be honoring with the medal next year? What sort of actors, sports figures, performers, leaders in their profession, would be judged worthy of the honor by a Criminal-in-Chief who believes Jeff Sessions to be an acceptable U.S. Attorney General, or that Ben Carson is qualified to have a seat in the U.S. Cabinet? Might the thespian artistry of Chuck Norris and Scott Baio finally be acknowledged? Or the humanitarian efforts of Sheldon Adelson? The cultural impact of the Duck Dynasty clan?
And about the annual Kennedy Center Honors, what sort of artists can we expect to show up for that, eh? Who can we anticipate would take that famous stage and display the work of a lifetime? … what with the whole First Family clumped together in the balcony like a clan of rat-faced rodents, bathing in the glow of faux-presidential glamour? Will Ted Nugent finally get the recognition he has done so little to deserve? Could they sober up enough drug-addled country music “stars” to fill out an evening of mutual admiration?
And won’t those PBS specials of the events be a treat for the next four years? That is, if PBS survives this plague.
These are questions worth considering as we enter into the second month of the Resistance. I feel strongly that the refusal to accept atrociousness as legitimate must come at all levels and in all manners. And in a nation as attuned to culture—both high and low—as this one, it is all the more vital that cultural figures (both high and low) not only take a stand, but stand together.
I suggest someone—maybe someone who knows someone who knows Meryl Streep … or Beyonce … or Steven Spielberg or Stephan Sondheim or Paul McCartney or anyone else in show biz with enough clout and peer respect to initiate it—start assembling a roster of fellow actors, musicians, ballet dancers and opera singers and rock stars and movie directors and Broadway performers, all of whom would be willing to announce now—right now!—that they will not accept any honorific of any sort, not as long as came from this abomination set to take control of the Oval Office.
We must encourage notable novelists and pre-eminent poets, artists of canvas and sculpture, educators, academics, inventors, eminent architects, doctors and scientists to follow suit and refuse to participate in any function that would allow the in-coming president to appear presidential.
Good people of America, we are all looking for ways to fight back against what we know is a national tragedy in development. We must expect our opposition leaders to do whatever they can politically to limit the bastard’s damage. We must call upon whatever benevolence is left in the business community to ensure the bastard does not have the totality of American corporate power at his humped back. We must pray the sane states and cities—the ones with decent people in charge and not monsters—to reject and resist and repel as much of the Trump shit storm as they possibly can. And we must encourage the Resistance in all of its diversity to put aside the differences, and organize, organize, organize!
Singers and painters, poets and pianists, movie idols and playwrights, the artist community in toto will be a part of this Resistance. Perhaps the central part. The Arts, in all of its manifestations, defines our culture … our civilization … the essence of what we are as sapient beings. And what is happening in our nation’s halls of power right now is nothing less than an all-out assault on everything about our world worth preserving. There can be no sitting this fight out.