August 25, 2011

Martin Luther King: Spinning Like A Lathe

Much has been written—at least in the conservative blogosphere—about the images of Mr. Obama produced by his eternal campaign and his slobbering worshipers. But for those not familiar with the issue, merely google "obama posters" and you'll see what I mean. Conservatives, and those who lived through the Cold War, have been rightfully appalled by the iconographic, fawning images because they are very much in the style of Cold War Communist propaganda iconography, imagery that reflected the hero worship of some of the most vile monsters humanity has ever produced, men like Stalin, Lenin, Mao and the lesser monster in terms of numbers of victims, Che Guevera. Equally appalling has been the starry-eyed worship of these images by Mr. Obama's leftist followers, people who are apparently unaware of the horrific parallels, don't care about them, or see in those parallels the kind of virtue and power sought only by the deranged and tyrannical.


It is with this in mind that I write about the recently unveiled Martin Luther King Memorial on the Mall in Washington DC. The centerpiece of the four-acre memorial is a massive, 30 foot tall statute of Dr. King, a work some eleven feet taller than the statutes of Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. The Memorial is the only such shrine on the Mall not dedicated to a former President. The statue is of a piece with Communist propaganda and rather than being rendered in the classical (ancient Greek/Renaissance) style as the majority of other monuments in DC, it resembles nothing so much as the massive, triumphal statutes of Chairman Mao (a dictator beloved of Obama appointees), arguably the most depraved—in terms of sheer body count—mass murderer and despot in the history of mankind.

The statute--amazingly--was carved by Chinese artist Lei Yixin who prior to carving the MLK statute, was best known—imagine this—for massive statues of Mao. Or perhaps I should observe that it is amazing only to those who consider America to be an exceptional nation and the beacon of freedom and liberty in the world, a nation that expended considerable blood and treasure during the Korean War fighting the Chinese and North Koreans that South Korea would not experience the kind of oppression and mass murder the Chinese—and later the North Koreans--visited on their own people.

By all means, go here and here for an American and a British take on the Monument.

Interestingly, this is not the first time an Asian was involved in controversy roiling around a Washington memorial. Maya Lin, at the age of 20, won the design competition for the Vietnam Memorial. Lin is a natural born American. In fact her parents fled China for America in 1949 when Mao came to power.

With emotions about the war still raw, opposition to her concept was angry and fierce, with some referring to it as "a black gash of shame." Others were upset that the monument contained no statuary reflecting the soldiers who served, nor was an American flag on display. Still, the monument was completed and dedicated on November 13, 1982

Over time, a flagpole was added, and finally, by Nov 11, 1984, a statue by Washington sculptor Fredric Hart entitled "Three Servicemen," was added. The statute depicts three Vietnam-era soldiers with correct uniforms and equipment as though emerging from the forest after a mission. These additions did much to silence opposition, and Lin's vision has been vindicated. The Vietnam Memorial is the most visited in Washington, and is renowned for its solemnity, dignity and emotional power.

Sadly, it is unlikely that the MLK Monument will ever attain similar status. The statue is clearly rendered in the Soviet/Mao propaganda style. King stands, his massive, stiff arms crossed, his visage not impassive and noble as in classical sculpture, but rather, stern, even angry and menacing. Unlike the graceful, lifelike fluidity of the statues of Jefferson and Lincoln, King—rendered in coarse, abrasive texture--appears more rock than man, more state-conjured goblin than human being, more stiff, grim, and threateningly stylized in the blatantly intimidating Marxist style, a style that does not inspire awe and reverence, but inescapably reminds the unwilling viewer of the consequences of failing to demonstrate sufficiently worshipful public deference. This is no idle threat even today in China where dissidents are often shot in the back of the head and their surviving relatives billed for the bullet. Most bizarre is the inescapable observation that Lei Yixin has carved Dr. King with unmistakably Asian features.

I suspect that as with so much else in contemporary America, some 25% of Americans—leftists all—will be thrilled with the statute, for it directly reflects their policy and political preferences. It symbolizes the strength, rigidity and inflexibility of the idealized leftist state, ostensibly caring for "the people" with appropriately soaring rhetoric, but in reality, more than willing to wield the iron fist of power, to crush any individual or disfavored group to achieve its ends, the Constitution and freedom be damned.

The rest of America will be, at best, ambivalent about it. Many will be as appalled as was I to see the monstrosity. But I suspect none would be as appalled as Dr. King himself, who was far from an admirer of Communist doctrine and its propaganda manifestations.

Yet another triumph for the Obama Administration. Yet another disgrace for America.

Posted by MikeM at August 25, 2011 10:18 PM

speaking as an artist I dont like it either.

and more than likely a resume that has carving mao was probably a selling point not a detraction to the final arbiters of this choice

Posted by: rumcrook at August 25, 2011 10:55 PM

Excellent commentary. That rock is an abomination. But then, most everything else in DC is an abomination these days!

Posted by: GunRights4US at August 26, 2011 06:51 AM

I understand your points, and they are good ones:

a) There was no American artist with the skill to sculpt Dr. King for this? I find it difficult to believe. I think rumcrook is correct in his assessment that the ability to sculpt Mao was probably a big selling point. Also: it was actually pounded out in China.

b) I wish it hadn't been placed on the Mall. That should be reserved for former Presidents with stellar accomplishments, rather than for citizens who achieved greatly.

c) It's freakin' huge! Far, far too big; and I agree that if Dr. King was in fact as humble as many say, he would have been horrified to see this as representative of him and his ideas.

d) Its Soviet-propoganda-style rendering is in a piece with much of the Obama regime. It is stiff, graceless, jarring, and unattractive.

All that said, however, I finally understand it. I finally saw the inscription: "Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope." This pulls the whole gargantuan thing together. I still don't like it, think it shouldn't be there, think it's butt-ugly, inappropriate, and hubristic, and just plain wrong. But at least I understand it.

Now can they please tear it down?

Posted by: Stoutcat at August 26, 2011 08:10 AM

What must it be like to be a well-respected leader of a religious order that specifically prohibits the worshipping of graven images, and find yourself turned into a graven image that will be worshipped by millions?

And all the headlines are about the "dream coming true". Really? MLK's dream was to get a statue of himself in DC?

Posted by: Professor Hale at August 26, 2011 09:10 AM

Presumably, if the left gets its way, the deity occupying the Oval Office will someday have his own statue on the mall.

Keep in mind, one thing about statues constructed this way - they're much easier to topple during the revolution. Ask Saddam and Tito.

Posted by: Marty at August 26, 2011 10:04 AM

Reminds me of the statue of Stalin that once graced Prague. The monument is an embarrassing pastiche of the type of symbolism that is all too familiar to me from my decade in China- a man towering over us plebs, not deigning to even look at us, back straight with arms in determined, static pose. None of the heavy lifting we looking up are accustomed to, but then he doesn't seem to acknowledge those doing the fighting, the striving, the suffering. But then the point of such memorials is to mythologise such heroes to strike an eternal distance between them and us. At least the mass-murderer Mao is always shown finished, with his feet moving slightly forward as with those showing the pharaohs. Compare MLK simply standing in stone with those Michelangelo had wresting themselves from their stone prisons. But then, because in the end the memorial has no honest, sincere meaning, $800,000 had to be spent simply to cover the superfluous blocks on either side with quotations.

Posted by: Keir at August 26, 2011 01:14 PM

To me Rev. King was about hope, promise, and breaking down barriers. I don't see that in this statue.

Posted by: MikeM_inMD at August 26, 2011 08:51 PM