Friday, February 13, 2004

LOW BLOGGING BEHIND AND AHEAD: I've not been blogging much lately, and won't be for a while yet, both because I've been trying to do better things with my time, and, mainly, because the keyboard on my laptop has died (after I dropped it), and will not be fixed by the helpful, reasonably-priced, but less than rapid Oxford Computing Service folks for some time.
Given the quality of the post I just wrote, below, I think we can all agree this is a very good thing.

IT HAPPENS: One truly odd thing I've found about my post-college life is how often I encounter the names of people I was in seminars with staring up at me from the internet, or even from what I still think of as 'real' publications, in the form of bylines. But now this experience has been outdone by an even odder one: seeing one sometime classmate attacking the federal program that pays for the work of another former classmate. Katherine Mangu-Ward -- whom I still remember fondly from several seminars (I particularly cherish the memory of her insisting that the US has a socialist government before the beginning of one class) takes an expectedly jaundiced look at what she and the rest of the gang at the Weekly Standard regard as wasteful programs that have deservedly been axed in George Bush's Federal Budget. One that she highlights is a program having to do with exchanges with former whaling partners, or some such. What the program effectively does, I take it, is provide federal funding for educational programs, internships, etc., for and about the indigenous peoples in Hawai and Alaska, as well as inhabitants of Mass. (and thus provides financial assistance for the Peabody-Essex Museum in Salem, Mass., where my good friend and sometime room-mate [and, way back when, one of the original three Js who started this blog] Jon works). Katherine incisively refers to this as 'whaling education'.
Now, a program that focusses explicitly on former whaling partners does seem like good fodder for the mockery of anti-government conservatives. There are certainly more pressing needs for the money (missile defense! missile defense! Give us money for our ineffectual, highly costly, probably unnecessary missile defense! Yay!). But I do wonder whether educating Americans about the history and cultures of their country -- and particularly about those people who lived (and, yes, whaled -- gosh it's hard to be a liberal and keep a straight face sometimes ...) in what's now the US before we and most of our ancestors did, and whose cultures and populations our nation pretty well wiped out, and whose descendants (in the cases where descendants survive) often live in poverty, their plight and heritage alike unrecognized -- is such an unworthy -- or, indeed, derision-worthy -- goal.
I know that many on the right side of the political spectrum, when they think it over, will agree that recognizing the nobility of our old whaling and trading partners is an important goal, and will, with their commitment to private-donor charity, leap to fill the void left by cuts in government funding. And so, maybe, one day soon, Jon and his co-workers can look forward to receiving a generous grant for their efforts at free cultural education from the overflowing purse of Rupert Murdoch -- who, I'm sure, won't begrudge re-routing a miniscule amount from his well-funded network of organs of right-wing propaganda.
And then we can all be happy; right, kids?

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