Friday, October 2, 2009

Mao, Now, and Me

You may be aware of the current dust-up at the Richard Nixon Library. The archives Director and twelve Chinese people want the statue of Chairman Mao removed from the Hall of Leaders. Mainly because he was a mass murderer and a communist.

That's hardly new news about Chairman Mao. Certainly President Nixon knew these things when he chose him to be included with the other World Leaders that he worked with during his Presidency. It just seems to me that folks shouldn't be allowed to come along twenty years later and decide they don't want things to be the way the President, whose name is on the door, wanted them to be. They are wrong to insist on trying to change history.

The other nine leaders who have statues in the room probably weren't perfect either. But each of those chosen by President Nixon, shaped the history of their time, for good or bad. It's the way it was. It would be wrong to remove any of them now, because a few folks don't approve of what they did. As it is, the Director of the Archives saw fit to put a sign in the gallery that reads, "The presence of the statues in this gallery does not imply that the United States government, which has operated this museum since July 2007, takes a position on their legacies"

OK, but why doesn't the piece of the Berlin Wall have a sign that says the government didn't approve of it's original intent, or a disclaimer by a photo of the Presidential party attending the Communist propaganda production of the "Red Detachment of Women," explaining that the government did not approve of China's cultural revolution? I suppose. . . .one could probably walk among the exhibits and find lots of areas to criticize. Actually, that's exactly what has been done. Several missing exibits have signs that say, "Exhibit Under Renovation."

Perhaps the most disturbing, is the poster that was put up 30 months ago, announcing that a new Watergate exhibit will be "coming soon". It features a picture of the Watergate building that looks like it is on fire. The symbolism for burning in hell, perhaps?

We know the Director believes that a presidential library should include all the people who were a part of that presidency. His way of explaining why he invited John Dean to speak on the anniversary of the Watergate break-in. Alright, but it seems to me, he can't have it both ways. Chairman Mao was a huge part of the Nixon presidency. The leader who invited President Nixon to visit his country in 1972. A visit that many consider to be President Nixon's greatest achievment. It was a historic moment. How in the world can he, Chairman Mao, not be a part of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library?

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