The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, commonly known as the Stimulus, opened the door to many projects in America. ARRA aimed to boost America’s economy out of a recession that plagued the entire world. It paved the way for many things: $90.9 billion for education, with $2 billion specifically for Head Start and a 17 percent increase in the maximum Pell Grant to $5,350, and tax reductions for the middle class by $237 billion. Unfortunately for America, it indirectly led to the emergence of the Tea Party movement. This movement has done nothing productive for America and has only caused further interruptions in the country’s already strenuous democratic process.
In the introduction to Cannibals and Kings, the anthropologist Marvin Harris wrote that “cultures on the whole have evolved along parallel and convergent paths which are highly predictable from a knowledge of the processes of production.” This belief is the crux of his greatest contribution to anthropology, the theory of cultural materialism. Over the course of his career and many books (of which I own all), Harris applied this principle to explain many of the seemingly irrational practices and tenets of the world’s varied cultures, notably including cannibalism and prohibitions on consumption of pork. In a contemporary context, however, I think it can be equally well applied to the phenomenon of so-called modern art.
Why is American-ness something we have to prove? Will handing out masks wearing red, white, and blue truly erase any hostility? What about after the virus? All of this begs the question, what if the virus originated from a European country?