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CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: King, in word and stone – The Washington Post

August 26, 2011

King, in word and stone

By Charles Krauthammer, Published: August 25

It is one of the enduring mysteries of American history — so near-providential as to give the most hardened atheist pause — that it should have produced, at every hinge point, great men who matched the moment. A roiling, revolutionary 18th-century British colony gives birth to the greatest cohort of political thinkers ever: Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Hamilton, Washington, Franklin, Jay. The crisis of the 19th century brings forth Lincoln; the 20th, FDR.

Equally miraculous is Martin Luther King Jr. Black America’s righteous revolt against a century of post-emancipation oppression could have gone in many bitter and destructive directions. It did not. This was largely the work of one man’s leadership, moral imagination and strategic genius. He turned his own deeply Christian belief that “unearned suffering is redemptive” into a creed of nonviolence that he carved into America’s political consciousness. The result was not just racial liberation but national redemption.

Such an achievement, such a life, deserves a monument alongside the other miracles of our history — Lincoln, Jefferson and FDR — which is precisely where stands the new Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial. It opened Monday on the Tidal Basin, adjacent to Roosevelt’s seven acres, directly across from Jefferson’s temple, and bisecting the invisible cartographic line connecting the memorials for Jefferson and Lincoln, authors of America’s first two births of freedom, whose promises awaited fulfillment by King.

The new King memorial has its flaws, most notably its much-debated central element, the massive 30-foot stone carving of a standing, arms crossed, somewhat stern King. The criticism has centered on origins: The statue was made in China by a Chinese artist. The problem, however, is not ethnicity but sensibility. Lei Yixin, who receives a lifetime government stipend, has created 150 public monuments in the People’s Republic, including several of Chairman Mao. It shows. His flat, rigid, socialist realist King does not do justice to the supremely nuanced, creative, humane soul of its subject.

via King, in word and stone – The Washington Post.

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One Comment
  1. August 26, 2011 3:23 PM

    Folded arms do not engender a primary part of King’s philosophy of openness to all to join together.

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