Alfred Krupp was a notorious arms merchant and Nazi collaborator. The subject of Diane Arbus's photo, a "Child With a Hand Grenade", grows up in a culture where militarism is worshiped as virtue. The former helps to make the world. The latter has to live in it.
I learned about the powerful political statement created by the juxtaposition of these two iconic photographs during Howard Stern's recent interview with Graham Nash of the iconic music group Crosby, Stills, and Nash.
In several weeks, Stern is ending his cable TV show with the On Demand Network. I imagine that he waited until Robin Quivers, his long time partner and sidekick made her triumphant return after an almost two year fight with (what would be in other people without her resources) near terminal cancer.
Howard Stern is one of the best interviewers and talkers in the history of radio. Once he inevitably retires, he will be very much missed.
I knew about Crosby, Stills, and Nash's importance to American music. However, and this is a generational conceit as well as a function of my limited exposure to entire genres of music while in my teens and earlier years, besides their classic song "Chicago", I was unaware of the type of social commentary that penetrated much of the band's music until listening to Graham Nash on the Howard Stern Show.
Nash keyed in on a foundational and almost existential question in his discussion of the meaning that he read into a juxtaposition of the Alfred Krupp and "Child With a Hand Grenade" photos--what about the children?
Focusing on this political moment, I wonder, what are we teaching them as a society about the legitimacy of American government?
Watching the shutdown imposed on the American people by the Tea Party and their 1% overlords, America's young people are receiving an object lesson in bad behavior.
The Facebook and Millennial generations are chastised for their sense of self-importance, inflated egos for accomplishing little to nothing in life, and almost clinical levels of narcissism.The political "leaders" in the Republican Party are mirroring the same behavior.
Moreover, the Tea Party GOP brigands are engaging in political thuggery under a demand that they not be "disrespected", what is a better fit for a corner boy ghetto street tough who shoots people over having his sneakers stepped on, than for "esteemed" members of Congress. Priceless...but not really, given how such antics are costing the American people hundreds of millions of dollars.
Of course, there are winners in the shutdown of the United States government by the Republican Party. Men like Alfred Krupp always profit in a crisis and from instability. The war machine keeps going even while the money spigot is turned off for the rest of us.
[That is a great investigative piece for a brave and enterprising reporter. The idea that the shutdown "costs" the American people millions of dollars means that some entity is receiving a direct or indirect benefit. I would bet money that the defense industries and others who receive direct payments are going to have penalties and interest tacked on for the "time and trouble" that the shutdown may have "cost" them.]
Kids such as the one featured in the "Child With a Hand Grenade" photo will lose as educational services are cut, food programs are decimated, and the social safety net has holes ripped out of it by a temper tantrum Tea Party GOP that is determined to kill the "useless eaters".
American politics, as compared to other societies, has largely been thought of as being "non-ideological" by political scientists, historians, and others. The Tea Party GOP are a break from the tradition of consensus politics in the post World War 2 era. They are rabid radicals who will do anything to prove their ideological prior, as offered by Republican patron saint Ronald Reagan, that government is always the problem and never the solution. Such an observation is of course specious and absurd; however, the Tea Party GOP reasoned out a loophole wherein they would run for office just to destroy the country's political institutions.
The puppet masters for the Tea Party GOP are possessed of a wicked intelligence that is capable of devious and wicked political reasoning worthy of Machiavelli or Nero. The rank and file Tea Baggers are the fodder and useful idiots who can be moved like pawns on a chessboard to accomplish that goal.