One anti-American leftist salutes another


That’s Obama with his daughter yesterday at the dedication of the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial in Washington, D.C.

I haven’t yet commented on that supremely ugly, menacing, and inappropriate statue. Here I will just say that it looks no more like Martin Luther King than I do. Unless King looked like an Oriental despot.

But maybe the statue is not so inappropriate after all. Maybe it’s an unconscious expression of the real tendency and ultimate endpoint of modern liberalism—that liberalism of which King himself is one of the most prominent symbols.

As I have discussed before, it is beyond disastrous that America created a national holiday, and now a national memorial, for a man who, shortly after the culminating victory in 1964 of the Civil Rights movement that he led, ceased being the American liberal idealist that most people think of him as being and became your standard anti-American leftist, though with an overlay of pretentious religious moralism.

As evidence of King’s leftism, here are excerpts from his April 4, 1967 speech at Riverside Cathedral in New York City, in which he condemns America in the strongest terms for opposing the worldwide revolution. The speech shows that there was nothing separating King from the Left of his day, or from the anti-private property, pro-socialist, Occupy Wall Street protesters of ours. He shared their goal: One-World socialist government. Which is another term for—or at least has a great deal in common with—Oriental-style despotism. As I said, maybe the statue is not so inappropriate after all.

King said:

The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation, and before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its re-conquest of her former colony. [LA replies: Ho Chi Minh was, of course, a devoted Marxist-Leninist and an agent of Comintern, the international wing of the Soviet Communist Party. Wikipedia: “The Communist International, abbreviated as Comintern, also known as the Third International, (1919-1943) was an international communist organization initiated in Moscow during March 1919. The International intended to fight ‘by all available means, including armed force, for the overthrow of the international bourgeoisie and for the creation of an international Soviet republic as a transition stage to the complete abolition of the State.’” King left all that out and portrayed Ho as a Jeffersonian democrat whom the U.S. perversely declined to support.]

The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit….

In 1957 a sensitive American official overseas said that it seemed to him that our nation was on the wrong side of a world revolution. During the past ten years we have seen emerge a pattern of suppression which now has justified the presence of U.S. military “advisors” in Venezuela. This need to maintain social stability for our investments accounts for the counter-revolutionary action of American forces in Guatemala. It tells why American helicopters are being used against guerrillas in Colombia and why American napalm and green beret forces have already been active against rebels in Peru….

Increasingly, by choice or by accident, this is the role our nation has taken—the role of those who make peaceful revolution impossible by refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that come from the immense profits of overseas investment.

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

America, the richest and most powerful nation in the world, can well lead the way in this revolution of values….

We must not engage in a negative anti-communism, but rather in a positive thrust for democracy, realizing that our greatest defense against communism is to take offensive action in behalf of justice….

These are revolutionary times. All over the globe men are revolting against old systems of exploitation and oppression and out of the wombs of a frail world new systems of justice and equality are being born. The shirtless and barefoot people of the land are rising up as never before. “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light.” We in the West must support these revolutions. It is a sad fact that, because of comfort, complacency, a morbid fear of communism, and our proneness to adjust to injustice, the Western nations that initiated so much of the revolutionary spirit of the modern world have now become the arch anti-revolutionaries….

Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores and thereby speed the day when “every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain.”

A genuine revolution of values means in the final analysis that our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Every nation must now develop an overriding loyalty to mankind as a whole in order to preserve the best in their individual societies.

This call for a world-wide fellowship that lifts neighborly concern beyond one’s tribe, race, class and nation is in reality a call for an all-embracing and unconditional love for all men….

- end of initial entry -

Jim C. writes:

Regardless of one’s feelings about King, Mr. Auster is correct in stating that the statue does not resemble King at all—neither in visage nor attitude. Quite frankly, I’ve seen statues of Mao in the same pose.

Bill Carpenter writes:

As soon as I saw it I thought: Chairman Mao. The Communists liked to bulk Mao up into an imposing obelisk by dressing him in a big overcoat. The sponsors of the King statue achieve the same effect, partly by backing him with the unhewn block, no doubt to symbolize the unfinished work of purging America of its racist evil.

Thomas Bertonneau writes:

I’ve been surfing the web for images of Mao and Kim statuary. The statues of Mao typically show him smiling and waving to the people. It’s creepy, but not as creepy as Martin of the Glowering Stare and Folded Arms. Most of the statues of Kim Il Sung, the longtime Korean dictator and father of Kim Jong Il, also show him smiling and waving; but the one linked above is fairly close to the MLK statue, yet even so it is more human.

Here is a statue of Stalin. As in the case of Mao, I can find no statuary representation of Stalin with his arms crossed. I can find no statue of Robert Mugabe, Sukarno, or Ho Chi Minh glowering and with his arms crossed. The Communist dictators did not want to be depicted in the frightening way that the MLK statue depicts its subject.

Here is a statue of Mussolini.

Robert B. writes:

Leftists—Communists and Fascists—have always been enamored of the “Strong Man” ideal. Hitler, Mao and Lenin were slight men, but their official portraits, statues and such always depicted them as brawny and tough. I think it’s the idea that the masses are weak and need a “strong” leader to move them forward. If you look back to 2008, I pointed this out to you with regards to the reddish hued poster of Obama. I sent you near identical posters of Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin and Franco. All them had their chins in the air, looking into the future. The quintessential pose of the Leftist Strongman.

LA replies:

As readers know, I strongly disagree with the common conservative idea that Nazism is a form of leftism or liberalism. It’s even more idiosyncratic to describe Franco as a leftist. But we’re not going to revisit that debate.

Julian C. writes:

The King Memorial is also being criticized for not having any quotations about race or racial inequality. Dr. Boyce Watkins writes:

I took a look at the list of quotes on the Martin Luther King Memorial and noticed that the words “black” or “racism” do not exist anywhere in the list of statements by Dr. King. In addition to the exclusion of words relating to race (other than a quote about transcending race, which is sure to please any post-racial enthusiast), there is little to no reference to Dr. King’s lifelong struggle for racial equality in America. One small exception is a quote calling for us to commit ourselves to the “noble struggle for equal rights,” which can apply to equality for everyone, which doesn’t specifically reference race. This reminds me of the age old argument that the Black civil rights struggle is no different than the struggles of the gay community, animal rights groups and everyone else (remember when PETA ran ads comparing dogs to slaves?).

I am not sure if those on the committee to design the memorial were unaware that Dr. King spent much of his life fighting for racial equality, or if they somehow concluded that the struggle was implied. But I am not surprised that in a nation where discussing racial inequality is politically costly, that this issue would be left off the table.

LA replies:

That’s just astonishing. I cannot think of any explanation for it.

Paul K. writes:

I couldn’t find a picture of a Mao statue that resembles the Martin Luther King memorial, but there is a famous photograph of Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver striking a similar pose, even down to the sheaf of papers in his hand.


The Asiatic appearance of the MLK sculpture is not surprising in that it was carved by in China by Lei Yixin, who also produced statues of Mao.

LA replies:

I’m aware that the sculptor is Chinese. I find it bemusing that everyone thinks the statue’s Asian appearance is explained by the fact that the sculptor is Chinese, as though it were simply assumed that sculptors were unable to sculpt a human figure that doesn’t look like someone of their own race.

Ed H. writes (this came in before LA’s previous comment was posted):

My English professor, Hugh Kenner, had a lifelong interest in the phenomenon of “counterfeiting.” How is it, he would ask, that a statue of an Etruscan horse that had been on display for decades at the Metropolitan Museum of Art one day became obviously a fake? After all, it passed for genuine before generations of admiring eyes. The answer is that the 19th century counterfeiter did a remarkable job putting into the statue everything he knew would identify it as “Etruscan,” but he also without being aware of it put into the carving every convention of the 19th century which he was unaware of because he was so immersed in the 19th century himself. The decades passed. The 20th century came, artistic conventions changed, and the 19th century became, well, 19th Century, and one day the statue almost screamed aloud: I am not Etruscan at all! Suddenly all the details become a testament to what a 19th century salon artist thought was great about all things Etruscan.

The MLK statue was carved by Lei Yixin, a Chinese sculptor who, you guessed it, once carved statues of Mao. Of course Lei would never equate the two. Mao and MLK, at least not consciously. Such a degree of honesty and self awareness will not be forthcoming from a man who has shifted so effortlessly to appeasing the Democratic Party Central Committee, from appeasing that other Central Committee, you know, the Real One. But the devil is in the details, the devilish details Lei puts into his statues come automatically and from the deepest recesses of his thought.

Looking at the MLK statue we ask, where have we seen those late 1940s lapels before, those squared off shoulders, that stylized suit the hem of which looks made of iron? How about that Back To The Wall stance? The face a mask or resolution. “Not one step back comrades, the Enemy will not budge us.” Then there is that scroll in the hand, the gaze set on some distant horizon where abstractions like Social Justice and Peace exist alongside the Dictatorship of the Proletariat. Visible above all the merely temporary chaos, social decay and bloodshed.

Did Lei Yixin know he was doing all this? Did the man who carved the counterfeit Etruscan Horse know he was putting into his carving the unspoken assumptions of his own time and belief system? Of course not. But it doesn’t matter. Time will set things straight. This time, however, I don’t think we will have to wait 100 years before the MLK monstrosity is looked on as testament to fakery and delusion.

LA replies:

Good explanation of the sculptor’s thought process. But this still doesn’t explain why the U.S. government agency in charge of the King Memorial approved this insanely inappropriate statue.

Alexis Zarkov writes:

This MLK memorial comes across as fairly ugly. They have King with a face looking something like the Buddha. He was supposed to be a man of peace, yet this statue has a threatening presence, both as to size, and facial expression. According to body language as most people understand it, folded arms communicate contempt and arrogance.

LA replies:

Hmm, is it possible the sculptor was trying to pay homage to the current U.S. president?


The photo was originally posted at VFR in the entry, “I, Caesar”.

Paul K. writes:

This is from the Washington Post article about the King Memorial:

The sculpture, called the “Stone of Hope,” gets its name from a line in King’s “I Have a Dream” speech: “With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope.” At the entrance to the memorial two stones stand apart, representing the “Mountain of Despair.” A single wedge is pushed out, and from there King’s form emerges.”

The line “we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope” strikes me as clumsy. What is a stone of hope? A stone suggests something that weighs one down. Also, a stone is part of the substance of the mountain, so how do we hew hope from despair? That doesn’t make sense to me. Earlier in the speech King said, “Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.” Is despair a valley or a mountain? Shortly after that he said, referencing Isaiah Chapter 40, “I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low.” After that came the reference to the Mountain of Despair, so maybe it was exalted out of the Valley of Despair. But is it proper to exalt despair?

I wouldn’t bring this up if King’s speech wasn’t presented to us as the pinnacle of rhetorical achievement.

LA replies:

Not for the first time, I am astounded at the choices made by the people in charge of this memorial. “Stone of hope out of the mountain of despair” is one of the clunkiest metaphors I’ve ever come across. Out of all of King’s speeches, it passes belief that they chose not only to highlight this clunker, but to make it the central organizing idea of the memorial.

I think an argument could be made that what the King memorial represents, in its gauche and inappropriate design, is not the culminating achievement of liberalism (the Civil Rights movement, Negro equality, etc.), but the spiritual exhaustion of liberalism, the approaching end of the liberal project.

October 18

Alexis Zarkov writes:

About the absence of references in the memorial to racial equality, Mr. Auster writes, “That’s just astonishing. I cannot think of any explanation for it.”

I can advance one explanation: the committee does not believe in racial equality. They, like the Obama and the Democrats, want preferences for blacks to continue indefinitely. Recently a federal court struck down Michigan Proposal 2 (a referendum) that amended the Michigan to ban racial preferences in public university admission. The court’s decision reads like something out of 1984. “Proposal 2 reorders the political process in Michigan to place special burdens on minority interests, … ” The court based its holding on the equal protection clause in the Fourteenth Amendment! In my opinion, modern liberalism has explicitly abandoned equal treatment for the races under law as we can plainly see in this court decision. Thus, MLK’s utterances on judging people by the content of their character and not the color of their skin has become an embarrassment, and I’m not at all surprised references to racial equality don’t appear on the King memorial. The one time the word “race” appears on the memorial, “If we are to have peace on earth, our loyalties must become ecumenical rather than sectional. Our loyalties must transcend our race, our tribe, our class, and our nation; and this means we must develop a world perspective.” does not preclude racial preferences.

LA replies:

But surely after 1965 King would have made statements similar to President Johnson’s famous call for “[racial] equality as a fact and as a result,” that could be seen as endorsements of racial preferences. I don’t offhand remember them specifically, but I assume King must have made some statements along those lines, since he moved to the left in other ways.

Also, I don’t think King ever opposed the system of racial preferences for blacks that was instituted immediately after the passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Namely the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which was created by the Act as its enforcement mechanism, defined discrimination, not as an identifiable act of discrimination against someone because of his being black, but as the absence of proportional representation of blacks. Therefore the only way an employer could prove that it was not discriminating, was to have a proportional representation of blacks among its employees, i.e. racial quotas. Except for conservatives (until they gave up the fight after Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003), the country accepted this radical transformation in the meaning of equality, from procedural equality of individuals, to substantive and mandated equality of groups, an idea of equality that requires unearned and unjust benefits for blacks (as well as other nonwhites and women), and unearned and unjust harm to whites (and men).

This is the true legacy of the Civil Rights Movement, a country based on group privileges, and in all the celebrations of King, I doubt that a single newspaper or public official mentions it.

Michael P. writes:

The scroll is part of a famous Chinese portrait of Mao.


According to the Asia Society:

The drawing is a preparatory sketch for Liu Chunhua’s well-known oil painting, Chairman Mao Goes to Anyuan. The poster is a reproduction of the painting. The painting was first exhibited in the Beijing Museum of the Revolution in October 1967. It depicts Mao Zedong at the Anyuan coal mine, where he was said to have incited the workers movement in 1921. On the recommendation of Jiang Qing, the painting was published in People’s Daily and other newspapers and journals and was presented as a birthday gift to the Chinese Communist Party on July 1, 1968. It became a “model work” and was one of the most widely circulated images during the Cultural Revolution. According to some scholars, more than nine hundred million reproductions were printed.

It is very common in China, and one may find it in souvenir shops, bookstores, etc., along with ashtrays featuring the Chairman’s photo on the bottom. I’ve not seen an ashtray of the junior Michael King, however in China smoking in public is still very much permitted by the government.

LA replies:

I doubt that scrolls are peculiar to Communist statues. Aren’t scrolls a common feature in traditional European sculptures and paintings of historical and biblical figures, not to mention classical architecture?

Also, with regard to “the junior Michael King,” Michael is referring to the fact that King’s original name was Michael King, Jr. As the Wikipedia article on King’s father, Martin Luther King, Sr. (original name Michael King), tells us:

By 1934, King had become a widely respected leader of the local church and had changed his name from Michael King to Martin Luther King, after Martin Luther (10 November 1483—18 February 1546), the admired German priest and professor of theology who initiated the Protestant Reformation.

The Wikipedia article on MLK Jr. says that his original name was Michael King, Jr. but does not give the date when he changed his name to Martin Luther King, Jr. However, since the father changed his name in 1934 we have to assume that the son’s name was changed at the same time, since it would have made no sense for him to be Michael King, Jr. when his father was Martin Luther King. The son was five years old in 1934. So he would not have preached under the name Michael King.

Paul K. replies to LA:

I think they chose the “stone of hope” just so they could link the words of MLK to his statue—he is carved from stone and he is the stone of hope. It’s very literal.

N. writes:

Looking at that statue, I cannot help but think of some ex-boxer working as a doorman and bouncer at an exclusive nightclub, looking over a group of people attempting to enter. The jacket, the body language, the sullen facial expression, and what looks like a napkin in his left hand tucked under the right elbow, all work together to form this clear image in my mind.

Therefore, the MLK statue should be entitled:

“Do you have a reservation?”

Timothy A. writes:

I think you are being too hard on MLK. It’s true that he had his race-hustling, socialist side, but you have to weigh that against his philandering, plagiarist side.

Shrewsbury writes:

But Shrewsbury loves the new monument to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (pbuh). With its overwhelming vibe of Oriental despotism, it is a brilliant artistic representation of what Shrewsbury has always said, that the motive behind the [God-]King worship and the “civil rights” laws was, is, and always will be, totalitarian. He only wishes that the monument also showed the blessed Martin swimming across the Mississippi and then playing golf and making 18 holes-in-one. If people like Mao and Kim Jong-il can do things like that, certainly the blessed Martin can. Probably hit a hundred free throws in a row, too.

LA replies:

I agree completely that the statue inadvertently reveals the true tendency of modern liberalism toward tyranny, and that King’s name should be changed to Martin Luther God-King.

Tim W. writes:

I think the King statue is appropriate. There shouldn’t be a statue of an anti-American such as King staring out over the Tidal Basin of our national city. But if there has to be one, this one is perfect. King is the premier symbol of what America has become, a nation no longer committed to excellence but to equality of outcome. In such a world, there is no longer a desire for the transcendent. There is no place for grandeur or beauty. Just a dull, generic equality. Of course, such equality is Orwellian. Some people are more equal than others. And King is the most equal of all. So he needs a tall, intimidating statue to remind the rest of us that we’re merely equal, not extra equal.

King’s statue may tower over Jefferson’s, but I take solace in this. It’s not a statue, but a carving, and it’s the largest in the world.

Jim C. writes:

Lei Yixin is from Hunan, the same province as Chairman Mao. (Here is Wikipedia article on him.) He was a do-nothing clerk at a publishing house when a local public official spotted some of his doodles and encouraged him to become a sculptor. While he has produced a wide a variety of work, his specialty is sculptures of Chairman Mao and iconography for the Chinese Communist Party, and his work in that realm has been so successful that he has been given a permanent stipend by the state.

Further to prove his mediocrity, take a gander at the attached, which is a good example of his middling work:


So, why was a Chinese lightweight given the commission? Could it be the Mao connection?

Alexis Zarkov writes:

LBJ issued Executive Order 11246 in September 1965 on equal employment opportunity, which as far as I can see does not call for racial preferences. The one reference to “Affirmative Action” (AA) states:

The contractor will take affirmative action to ensure that applicants are employed, and that employees are treated during employment, without regard to their race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Such action shall include, but not be limited to the following: employment, upgrading, demotion, or transfer; recruitment or recruitment advertising; layoff or termination; rates of pay or other forms of compensation; and selection for training, including apprenticeship.

Otherwise the order deals only with non-discrimination in federal hiring and contracting. Let’s not forget that while the 1964 Civil Rights Acts was under debate, southern Senators (correctly) warned that the Act could lead to a system of racial preferences or reverse discrimination against whites. During the debate Hubert Humphrey responded,

[I]f (one) can find in Title VII any language which provides that an employer will have to hire on the basis of percentage or quota related to color, race, religion or national origin, I will start eating the pages one after another, because it is not in there. [LA replies: see my discussion of the famous Humphrey statement in my article, “How the 1964 Civil Rights Act made racial group entitlements inevitable.”]

Nevertheless, as Mr. Auster correctly points out, the EEOC bureaucrats seized upon the vagueness of what “AA” means and went ahead and required proportional representation, which ultimately morphed into outright racial preferences. They got away with it because no one stopped them. In other words, AA is a product of rogue bureaucrats and not legislation or anything LBJ explicitly advocated. [LA replies: I disagree with this interpretation. No one in the system stopped the rogue bureaucrats. No one in the system has ever attempted to undo what the rogue bureaucrats did. And for the last 45 years anyone who has spoken of undoing what the rogue bureaucrats did has been marginalized as a racist. Therefore was happened is not the work of rogue bureaucrats, but of the system as a whole. Further, as I’ve said many times, from the very start of the civil rights movement, its real goal was not equal treatment under the law, but the advancement of black people, leading to collective equality of outcome with white people. Equal treatment under the law, the ostensible goal of the civil rights movement, was but a means of getting to the real goal of the civil rights movement, the substantive equality of black and white. That is why all liberals say today that the work of the civil rights movement is “not finished and we have a long way to go.” Of course we have a long way to go. We have an infinite way to go, because it is impossible in this realm of existence for there to be group equality of outcome between blacks and whites.]

On the subject of MLK and AA, I found this Paul Rockwell essay on King and AA. He purports to “set the record on straight” on King, showing that King did support AA and racial preferences starting with his Operation Breadbasket. Despite the facts of history, some modern-day faux conservatives such as Charles Krauthammer, Newt Gingrich, the gang at National Review, and others engage in some selective amnesia and try to represent King as opposing AA, quotas, racial preferences etc. With this background, I reiterate my original assertion. The King Memorial team faced a dilemma. Do they choose quotes that could give fodder to the notion that King opposed AA, or quotes to the contrary? The safest thing to do was to skirt the whole issue of race, and that’s what they did. [LA replies: That’s a fascinating theory. I’d like to look into this further to check this out. The absence of references to racial equality at the national memorial of the man whose main claim to fame was his crusade for racial equality, is double plus Orwellian. It calls out for explanation. Mr. Zarkov’s explanation makes sense and may very well be correct.]

An Indian living in the West writes:

It is a funny thing about modern America. One can say all kinds of derogatory things about the Founders or even about Lincoln. But say one bad thing about King and you become persona non-grata in polite company. The American infatuation with King is a symbol of the decline of the country. In the mind of the media King is a messiah and a demi-god rolled into one. The man who can do absolutely no wrong. It has become so pervasive that conservatives have long since given up criticising King on anything. Even that semi-literate Glenn Beck made it a point to invoke his name during his famous rally in Washington, D.C.

The media wanted Obama to become a kind of latter day King and raise him to the status of a messiah. Unfortunately, that hasn’t worked out too well so far. But who knows what Obama is going to be remembered for once he ceases to be president. After all, King was not such a revered figure in the 1960s. But he has become a messiah now.

In Britain since they have no history of legalised segregation, they never produced a King. The substitute for that is Mandela. Mandela is worshipped in Britain in the way that King is in America. I doubt if even Gandhi is held in that kind of esteem in India as Mandela is in Britain. They were even going to unveil a giant statute of Mandela (dwarfing Horatio Nelson’s) at Trafalgar Square! Fortunately, the defeat of the odious “Red” Ken Livingston put that to rest—for the time being.

Sage McLaughlin writes:

When I look at a big work of art or architecture like that, my first question is how I would react if I had happened upon it by chance, without knowing anything about it. Speaking for myself, my reaction to something as menacing as that sculpture would be to avert my eyes and hurry by. It’s astounding that such a thing would be on the Mall.

In response to Shrewsbury, a brief illustration of his point:

You (LA) often say that liberalism is at its core about the rejection of the God of the Bible, and its replacement by the Cult of Man. You also point out, rightly, that almost the entire Catholic priesthood has embraced that cult. Well, at the Cathedral of Ss. Peter and Paul in Indianapolis, where I used to live, there is actually an icon of Kng, golden halo-disc and all, hanging in the sanctuary. This is not a joke. When I saw this I was so disgusted, so scandalized, that I never set foot in the place again. (No less objectionable was the priest’s reaction to my request that he bless my medal of St. Michael, which was the real reason I was there. He shot me a bemused smirk and said, “Well OK, but you know this isn’t going to save you, right?”). King was neither a Catholic nor even principally a religious figure nor a man whose personal life anyone should seek to emulate, yet there he hangs, gazing over the congregation every Sunday, a testament to liberalism’s refusal to brook any rival, in any place, sacred or profane.

October 19

Jake F. writes:

The moment I looked at the photo of the MLK statue, before I saw your discussion of its “oriental tyrant” aspect, a line from Shelley popped into my mind: “Look upon my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

I’m sure you know the poem, “Ozymandius”, but here it is in full:

I met a traveler from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert … Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal these words appear:
My name is Ozymandius, King of Kings,
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Even more appropriate? amusing? is the fact that Ozymandius calls himself “King of Kings”. It’s a good pun for our purposes.

I’m not sure whether I should think of the “lone and level sands” as uplifting (the power of liberalism must eventually die) or as a warning (the civilization that empowered Ozymandius has sunk into the sand). Maybe both. That’s poetry for you. :)

The funny thing is that I’m not much given to poetry. The fit has to be pretty good for the thought even to enter my mind.

LA writes:

Further discussions on the King memorial are:

Menacing Oriental despot memorialized in our nation’s capital

The King horror, cont.

Why the King memorial commission was given to a Chinese.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 17, 2011 02:31 PM | Send

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