The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has released a list of taxpayer-funded grants totaling over $39.3 million in nationwide humanities projects after President Trump called for the total elimination of the NEH and the National Endowment for the Arts in his federal budget proposal.
Among the list of the exorbitant projects include federal spending to the tune of $300,000 for conversations about water, $75,000 for a database of podcasts, and $30,000 for oral histories of lesbian and gay Idahoans, to name a few.
Despite Trump’s efforts to defund the NEH, the Washington Free Beacon reports that a source close to the agency claims there is “no difference” in spending under the Trump administration compared to Obama. In fact, the same source revealed that some of the project titles have been misrepresented to make them appear “mainstream.”
However, NEH spokesperson Paula Wasle denied the allegation, saying: “The agency occasionally offers alternatives to applicants’ proposed titles for clarity.”
Wasle also came to the agency’s defense of projects mentioned in the newly-released list, which calls for a grant of $320,000 outright and $100,000 matching grant to the University of Virginia for the “Preparation for publication of volumes 20 and 21 of the Presidential series and volumes 26-32 of the Revolutionary War series of the papers of George Washington (1732–1799),” reads the 44-page document.
“NEH stands by its decision to fund presidential paper projects for John Adams, James Madison, James Monroe, and George Washington as well as projects from the Michigan Humanities Council, University of Idaho, and an educational program focused on 15 indigenous Alaskan communities,” she said.
Even more shockingly, a humanities project calls for $300,000 for what is titled “Dialogues about Water Project Description: Implementation of a series of public programs across Michigan that would address the historical, cultural, and environmental impact of water.”
Then, there’s a grant in the amount of $30,000 for the University of Idaho, which will be used for assistant professor Denise Bennett’s journalism project on “Collecting and presenting oral history videos of the LGBTQ community in Idaho,” according to the NEH.
It should be noted that Bennett had already received $3,500 from the Idaho Humanities Council “to help fund a multimedia project examining the experiences and lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people in the state of Idaho,” reads the University of Idaho website.
Another staggering amount of nearly $75,000 grant to the University of Wisconsin for a project overseen by assistant professor Jeremy Morris called: “Prototype development and adaptation of open-source software tools to facilitate large-scale search and analysis of podcasts.” He argues the project is essential for making it easier to “search through the metadata” within a large database, using keywords to locate podcasts “related to Trump, or that’s related to transgender rights or bathroom bills.”
Another grant in the amount of $60,000 is to explore the “historic and cultural significance” of polar bears in Alaska.
The Washington Free Beacon also reports that other projects listed include a $188,000 grant going toward a two-week seminar on Islamic poetry, and $108,000 spent on 16 schoolteachers learning the “history and cultures of Muslims in the United States.”
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