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Saturday, August 27, 2011

China Insults America Again--the MLK Monument

Communist China has taken a dump on American ideals and values again.

This time it is on the National Mall in a sculpture that presumes to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr. Judging from photographs online, the statue of Martin Luther King, Jr., by Chinese sculptor Lei Yixing, looks like typical Communist propaganda: determined stance, crossed arms, severe and glowering visage, everted lips evocative not of Sub-Saharan heritage, but of surliness. Indeed, MLK has been made to look like Mao Zedong or Lei Feng with short, tightly curled hair. MLK appears not as someone with a dream about people being judged by the content of their characters rather than the color of their skin, but ready to deliver a kick to the gonads.

Most other official portraits of MLK capture an intense, yet thoughtful and hopeful person. This was a man who cast a giant shadow not by calling for the destruction of cities or the political murder of others, but by using the very Evangelical idiom honored by his enemies to shame them into repentence. Lei Yixing's sculpture captures none of this, but oozes the unrepentant Stalinism of the Beijing government from every surface, curve, and angle.

Surely the United States of America has enough gifted sculptors out there who might have done a better sculpture.

Indeed, that the monument is made of Chinese granite by a Chinese sculptor who, to my knowledge, is not a naturalized citizen or even a lawful permanent resident, is a further travesty. It insults worldwide struggles for human rights and dignity, and supports a nation whose record on minorities stinks. Had MLK confronted the kind of Han Chinese chauvinism which, despite five Autonomous regions and numerous autonomous prefectures and counties scattered around China's periphery, he would have been treated no better than the Tibetans or Uighur. Had he spoken his Christian conscience to the China of the Mao he has been made to resemble, he would have been executed as surely as Wang Zhiming, the ethnic Miao pastor from Yunnan executed in 1973 for refusal to participate in denunciatory meetings organized by the Red Guard. Worst of all, the government would have told the people for whom a Chinese MLK might have spoken that they ought to be grateful that their Han "elder brothers" had liberated them from their backwards superstitions in the name of Karl Marx's Historical Necessity, and were sending their best young people to populate their farmlands and pastures and take the best jobs in their localities.

Washington D.C. has numerous monuments to famous Americans and foreigners, some warriors, some peacemakers, some statesmen, some poets, some spiritual, some materialist. Numerous sculptors American and foreign have captured their subjects sensitively and skillfully, beautifying the nation's capital. French's Lincoln that overlooked the spot from which King delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech exudes meditation, sorrow, compassion, and depth. But this work is not alone in capturing the better side of the American spirit. Lei's Martin Luther King is simple as a carelessly placed hammer dropping on the floor.

US Government, shame on you for commissioning a sculptor steeped in an alien political culture to commemorate a great American. Lei Yixing, go home and take your disgusting Stalinist idol with you. Martin Luther King Jr. deserves a better statue.

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