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Richard Crowson Commentary

Richard Crowson: We're (Really) Not In Kansas Anymore


Of all the many lines in the movie “The Wizard of Oz” that are regularly quoted by us cartoonist and commentary types, the one that is probably most often used is spoken by Dorothy. Looking around in amazement at Munchkinland, she says, “Toto, I have a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore!”

A lot of Kansans have had reason to speak that line again as of late. Most recently in Topeka a group of 50 respected former Republican lawmakers called Traditional Republicans for Common Sense held a news conference. They are alarmed by the far-right’s takeover of Kansas state government. They warned that the Governor’s proposed income tax cuts will force the poor of our state to pay more in sales and property taxes. They have a feeling they’re not in Kansas anymore.

Kansans who value the arts and believe that they enrich our lives have watched Governor Brownback’s tone-deaf efforts to annihilate our Kansas Arts Commission. He cost our state $1.2 million in federal arts funding by his action. Thankfully the Kansas Senate has approved the creation of a replacement panel called the Creative Arts Industries Commission.

This governor whose name has become synonymous with a brown scorched-earth landscape denuded of art, has recently had the gall to write a column for the Wichita Eagle in which he lauds the John Steuart Curry paintings in our Capitol Building. The column is in support of his tax cuts, of course.

Any future John Steuart Curry’s out there? Governor Brownback’s got a message for you: Get out of Kansas.

Now arts-minded Kansans are crossing their bloodied fingers in hopes the Governor does not veto the new arts panel. As they lick their wounds from the Governor’s heartless sneak attack on them over a year ago, some have a feeling they’re not in Kansas anymore. Apparently that’s just where the governor wants them to be: not in Kansas anymore.