No aspect of the U.S. government shutdown has garnered more public attention or drawn more outrage than the closing of national monuments. State governments and private donors have kicked in funds to keep monuments open. Here is a more nuanced perspective: fuck the fucking national monuments.
At this particular moment in our nation's history, fuck Mount Rushmore. Fuck the Statue of Liberty. Fuck the WWII Memorial, and the Lincoln Memorial, and the other carved rocks surrounding the Mall. Politicians are absolutely terrified of being accused of ruining a tour group's weekend sightseeing excursion. They should be worried about things that actually matter.
Here is just a short sampling of government services that have been shut down for the past two weeks due to the electoral squabbles of a small minority of lawmakers: services catering to blind people; the investigation of industrial chemical spills; most of the Consumer Product Safety Commission; assistance to Americorps staffers; research by the NOAA; fisheries enforcement patrols; most Environmental Protection Agency functions; campaign finance law enforcement; labor law enforcement; all of the US Interagency Council on Homelessness; WIC funding for poor women and children; and much, much more.
A reasonable human being would admit that, conservatively, all of the activities on that list have a greater impact on human beings than the closure of our national monuments.
Yet governors and donors will rush to fund the monuments and the parks out of their own pockets, lest they be captured on film being harangued by a veteran angry that his photo opportunity was foiled. "Gee whiz, what would Lincoln think if he saw us now, at a time when people can't even go eat ice cream cones on his memorial?" Lincoln would be upset about the un-investigated chemical spills, that's what. Monuments serve a legitimate purpose. Monuments are nice. But you'll notice they don't build the monument until the war is over. Why don't they build the monument during the war? Because they know that they need to direct their money and resources towards important uses during time of great peril or stress.
Fuck the monuments. Save the humans.