Nasty Circle: What’s Old is New Again

I once had the privilege of touring the attic of the American Museum of Natural History. In the mid-90s there were still shelves upon shelves of model heads up there illustrating the supposed “racial” categories of a century ago. Back in that era of eugenics, an Italian was considered to be of a different race from a neighboring Swiss. You can guess who was at the top and bottom of these bogus, power-based white-supremacist hierarchies. Founded and led by so-called “scientific” racists and eugenists, the AMNH has never come to grips with its long-discredited past as an intellectual bulwark for all the old devils of America, now so horribly resurgent under the deranged flailings of Dirty Donald.

Last I checked, there’s still a diorama at AMNH named after Madison Grant. This supremely horrible person — yes people thought so then, too — once caged an African man in the zoo. He also wrote one of the foundational texts of American racism, which was, along with Henry Ford’s filth, hugely inspirational for the Nazis.

Which brings me to the present. You may know that David Koch, of the notorious Koch brothers — sons of a John Birch founder; those rotten fascist apples didn’t roll far — has lavishly plastered his name all over NYC’s cultural institutions. (Of course, philanthropy as cultural money-laundering, turning blood money into art and culture, has a long tradition in this country.) AMNH has a Koch-funded exhibit that soft-peddles global warming.

And take a gander at the museum’s board of trustees. One name sure jumps out: Rebekah Mercer, another right-wing horror show who funds Breitbart, Trump, Bannon (until Fire & Fury, anyway), and the resurgence of fascism. So much so that there’s going to be a demonstration against Mercer’s presence on the board January 21 at 1pm. A social media source clued me into another board member, hereditary builder Richard LeFrak, who’s a long-time ally of Trump in the city’s corrupt development biz. What other horrors are hiding in plain sight on this list? Who is following the money? Not the museum, certainly, they’re just cashing the checks in a ghastly amoralist way.

No reason to pick on AMNH, though. The money at the heart of the entire structure of philanthropy is suspect. For instance, at the end of the year, I received several email appeals from the chairwomen of the board of another local institution. I’m afraid I feel constrained from naming it because of the real and precedented threat of retribution against friends who work there. The chair pleaded for our pennies for such causes as biodiversity. Curious, I looked her up: she and her husband, a hedge-fund troll, fund the Republican assault against the environment (and democracy).

As reminder, if you need, here’s a succinct catalog of the profound damage Trump and the Republicans have done after a year.

2 Responses to “Nasty Circle: What’s Old is New Again”

  1. 1 Ellen January 14, 2018 at 8:02 am

    Thank you for the link to the article. Nothing I did not know, but well done.

  2. 2 Beverly Seaton January 14, 2018 at 4:21 pm

    Happy New Year to you, too. I am just trying to keep my head down, maybe it will all go away. But of course it won’t. Keep on telling us like it is when you find it. I am not surprised at the continued power of eugenics, which I first discovered in a book my mother got from her book club. She did not endorse it but then she didn’t order it, either.

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