Wednesday, August 24, 2011

A Hideous Tribute to Anti-Liberty

Martin Luther King is one of America's heroes. He is because he stood for and caused the freedom of every American and, in particular, our freedom from apartheid, the Jim Crow laws that were still on the law books in the 50s and 60s. By championing the dignity of the black American, he stood for the dignity of all men.

His speeches reach so deeply into the human soul that no human can escape being moved by them. I remember going to Barnes and Noble in Buckhead here in Atlanta in December 1999 to have John Lewis sign his book, Walking With the Wind. There were not many people in line and so I moseyed around until there was no line. I went up to him and his wife and asked him to sign my book. He did and said a few words to me. I was so moved being in his presence that I had to unnaturally turn away for fear of bursting into tears. That is how I, a white man, hold as sacred Martin Luther King, John Lewis and the struggle that was the Civil Rights movement.

John Lewis has been my Representative in Washington DC forever. Not knowing his record, I voted for him because of his connection to Civil Rights. But as the first decade of this new century wore on and I watched more closely what he advocated, I realized I was against him and could no longer vote for him. He has not followed the words of Martin Luther King which over and over call for all men to grasp that they are, in common, men first, foremost and most fundamentally. Lewis and other prominent blacks have advocated entitlement to economic goods and there is always someone who must provide those goods. And to the extent this is a system enforced by the government's gun, it is yet another form of enslavement and the destruction of human dignity. The cruel irony is that it entraps the lower end of the economic scale which considerably affects blacks. So much for John Lewis.

From all the speeches of Martin Luther King I've read, he would flip in his grave if he knew what was going on. He was so keenly aware of our common humanity that there is no way that he would not pick up that blacks and guilty liberals are walking down the wayward path of the new slavery.

This week, there is a new monument on the Washington Mall - a monument to Martin Luther King. Pictures of the monument were released Monday. My God! What an appalling monument to Martin this is. I despair.

King searched for the right phrase to subtly include all that he meant when he said "man." He was in a constant process of distinguishing that and he did it so well that few can listen to him without their heartstrings strummed or the sudden lump welling up in their throat. He showed us in speech after speech how truth IS beauty.

This statue possesses none of that. And what is further wrong with it is that it indicates nothing of the American character that could hear and grasp King's words, a culture grounded in the primacy of the individual man. It was because we saw the images on TV and could relate to those individuals undergoing that kind of indignity that we had to correct this travesty. Another culture at another time could not have heard them in the way King meant them and was able to convey them to the American people.

The statue on the mall is as gross and wrong-headed a statement of Martin Luther King as I can imagine. It shows him in a stance of authority with his arms crossed. King, on the other hand, was dynamic and attuned to a possibility that he worked and worked to convey. He never had the attitude that he "already knew," because he didn't. The truth wasn't in itself the final answer for him. Finding the right words and speaking in a way to convey that truth was what he was inspired to seek and his work was a wonder to behold - on a par with a great symphony or magnificent work of art.

The tragedy of this statue is that it coveys the presence of Big Brother or, I think, Mao Tse-Tung or Joseph Stalin, ruthless, murderous, communist dictators both. Even the rock which, in the work, King walks through although not free of, is more evidence of crudity. King was free of that rock because he experienced in himself that possibility and that was what he conveyed. This is why he was able to take us to the heights.

The whole feeling of this work is un-American, maybe anti-American. It feels like an outsider's perception imposed on us. It has none of the refinement and panache of the art deco communist art of Rockefeller Center built in the 30s when socialism and communism were a possibility. Now that they are proved to not be a possibility for any human society, this is nothing more than some dullards' slap at America and the potential for the individual human being that she has always represented. This, I must say, is disgusting and it ought to be removed from the mall and taken all the way back to the drawing board.

The sad thing is that if this image gets associated with Martin Luther King, it will end him as an inspirational figure. There is none of that in this monument which is a hideous tribute to mankind's hell, the endurance of another authoritarian figure.


Principlex said...

Another related thought. The Jim Crow laws were essentially anti-mind. When something is anti-mind, it infringes human dignity. Why? Because it is the mind that is the means of making choices.

If a person enters a bus and there are plenty of seats in the front which he is forbidden to select, that essentially says that you are not human because the conclusions of your own mind don't apply. You must submit to my, an outside authority's, mind.

This same principle is what is going on in the current, widely-applied institution of regulation. A man cannot be regulated prior to his choosing lest he be treated less than a man. A regulated man is a Rosa Parks prior to her sitting in the front of the bus, in another form.

Down with regulation! A man commits no crime until he does. For him to do that means he has infringed another man's life or property. He can never be guilty before he's acted nor can he be treated less than a man which is the premise of regulation.

Louis Agudo said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly. Another unfortunate aspect is that the sculptor chosen is from China. The granite is from China. How they could not find an American sculptor to create this work of art with Granite from New Hampshire is incomprehensible to me.

Louis Agudo

Principlex said...

Here's another article written on the sculptor of the piece:

You guessed it, his work has been to sculpt statues of Mao.

Robert said...

There was not much in the media about this. I think they knew that they had to just spring it on people without any hoopla or build up. It is something not even a communist government would do. It is as if they knew people would be turned off by the dour expression and the dominance of the scupture that so much reflects the opposite of what he was like in real life. He was a man with a unique vision that inspired people to question their prejudices and become better individuals. He was not a communist master seeking to conquer the world in the face of an invented capitalist monster. Yet, that is how he appears in this sculpture...Mao-like, even Stalin-like. They tore down sculptures like this with the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now we, the land that liberates people, are constructing a monolith-like visage that is not at all like the individual it is supposed to represent.