Monday, September 26, 2011

RHETORIC: Nothing At All


Senator John Pastore: “Is there anything connected with the hopes of this accelerator that in any way involves the security of the country?”
Physicist Robert Rathburn Wilson: “No sir, I don’t believe so.”
Pastore: “Nothing at all?”
Wilson: “Nothing at all.”
Pastore: “It has no value in that respect?”
Wilson: “It has only to do with the respect with which we regard one another, the dignity of man, our love of culture. It has to do with: Are we good painters, good sculptors, great poets? I mean all the things we really venerate in our country and are patriotic about. It has nothing to do directly with defending our country except to make it worth defending.”

The quote is making the rounds amongst those in the science community upset about the cancellation of the James Webb Space Telescope (which was planned to replace the Hubble) and the end of our shuttle program.

But Wilson's argument is about culture; not just scientific culture but culture as large. I'd love to see that quote in the arsenal of arts advocates as well.

Figuring out how to make an effective argument for the arts is crucial. So is figuring out how to communicate the goals and hopes of government. That's why Elizabeth Warren is also making the rounds right now.

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