The Artist's view of the Trump presidency and the rise of violent fascism.
Throughout the ages and in modern times, history repeats the dreadful mistakes of the past with little awareness from society. For this reason, like many others, I am joining the voices of the minority that clamor to avert the return of tragic events that can render a nation and a world vulnerable to tyranny and despotism. Our failure to educate our children about the history of fascism carries a grave cost. The blindness of a nation on the edge of totalitarianism is appalling. Donald Trump has become a serious threat to the world.
It was 1920. Germany was preparing for change - any change. Deep anger, economic hardship, distrust towards the government, and a failing belief in the Weimar Republic's constitution eroded the nation's morale. After Wall Street crashed in 1929, the U.S. called in its loans to Germany, and the German economy collapsed. A weary, hostile, and desperate society was ready for any kind of change. Many Germans wanted to blame something and someone for their circumstances. Adolf Hitler offered them unprecedented change and a group of people to blame - the Jews (the money lenders). He promised to make a disgraced Germany great again. He promised prosperity, a return to German nationalism, and the banishment of Jews from German society.
At first, many Germans did not take his campaign seriously. In 1932, a popular poster for the fervent candidate read: "Hitler ... Our Last Hope." Are Americans ready to support a leader who promises to abolish the 14th amendment to deport millions of Latin American children and their undocumented parents? Should we not be outspoken about a President, who promises to make a purer America great again? Should we not be disturbed about Donald Trump, who insisted that the former President was not an American citizen? Should we not be troubled by a man who promises to upgrade nuclear weaponry? Should we not be cautious when a president insists he will change the constitution because he believes that he should be unencumbered by red tape?
Can we stand by while parents with children seeking asylum in America, are separated and sent to detention centers? Does the world need another wall after the fall of the iron curtain? Are we not obliged to exposing the historical similarities of another arrogant despot seeking power? How long will a free press survive the assault of this misguided president? Is America on the precipice of totalitarianism? Are we acknowledging the rising power of hate groups that are rallying behind Donald Trump? Is Trump their last hope? Is the rise of a fascist and violent dictatorship upon us? How long will we pardon and ignore the dangerous actions of another madman? Have we once again failed to learn the lessons of history?
This is the title of the image above, which is showcased in the Spadecaller Gallery, Chains of Tyranny.
The Statue of Liberty was a gift from the people of France to the people of the United States. On Liberty Island in New York Harbor, the copper statue was erected. On October 28, 1886, the statue's completion was marked by New York's first ticker-tape parade. In 1958, I was 8 years old when I first visited the statue and climbed the long spiral staircase to the top of the torch.
Lady Liberty holds a torch above her head with her right hand, and in her left hand carries a tablet inscribed in Roman numerals with "JULY IV MDCCLXXVI" (July 4, 1776), the date of the U.S. Declaration of Independence. At her feet lies a broken chain representing emancipation from bondage. For many years, the statue became an icon of freedom and a welcoming sight to immigrants arriving from abroad.
Plans for the construction of a granite platform to mount the statue were drafted. In 1882, fundraising for the project commenced. The committee organized several money-raising events. As part of one such effort poet Emma Lazarus was asked to donate an original work. She initially declined. At the time, she was involved in aiding refugees to New York who had fled anti-Semitic pogroms in eastern Europe. She saw a way to express her empathy for these refugees in terms of the statue. The resulting sonnet, "The New Colossus", including the iconic lines, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free", is uniquely identified with the Statue of Liberty and is inscribed on a plaque in the museum in its base.
"My maternal grandfather and his brother were among the European refugees who had escaped the pogroms. They were young boys of ten and eleven. Their parents were killed shortly after they had boarded a tanker bound for New York. For many years, the statue became an icon of freedom and a welcoming sight to thousands of immigrants arriving from abroad. Thank God, Trump was not the president then, my mother would never have been born. This is the story behind the creation of this image."
Is it too late to make a choice?