Friday, June 01, 2007

Washing The Grime of History

There are dozens of historically offensive sculptures presiding over plazas and street intersections throughout San Francisco, such as the monument in Union Square honoring the slaughter of Filipinos, and this doozy of an assemblage about the bringing of White Civilization to California.

On Wednesday, the huge set of sculptures standing between the Asian Art Museum and the Main Public Library were being hosed down by a water truck as if somehow the slaughter of Indians by missionaries and miners could somehow be cleansed and transformed into a Good Thing.

Unless I'm completely mistaken, it's doubtful there will be any statues memorializing the bringing of Judeo-Christian Culture to the Backward Muslim Masses of Iraq, which is an indication that we are incrementally becoming more civilized as a species though it certainly doesn't seem that way if you're looking at all closely at United States politics.

Though the Democrats' utter inability to stop the Iraq Occupation shouldn't have been a big surprise, what with Senator Dianne Feinstein and her husband busying themselves with war profiteering and Speaker Pelosi giving speeches to AIPAC on how the U.S. needs to confront Iran, it was still depressing and infuriating.

The best postings I've read on the recent turn of events, which nicely combine pessimism and optimism in one strand, are by Gary Leupp, a Tufts University professor writing in "Counterpunch" (click here), and Jan Adams at "Happening Here" who visits Pelosi's San Francisco offices with a group of peace activists (click here).

Jan also has a brilliant piece about the new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad which is currently under construction, a white elephant folly of almost unprecedented insanity (click here for the full article). The final quote is a kicker:
Toby Dodge, an expert on Iraq at Queen Mary, University of London, has just come back from a month spent in Iraq, largely in the Green Zone. ... "A fortress-style embassy, with a huge staff, will remain in Baghdad until helicopters come to airlift the last man and woman from the roof," he said, adding his own advice to the architects of the building: "Include a large roof."


janinsanfran said...

Why you nice guy to link to those pieces!

I've been thinking of collecting some pics of offensive statues in SF. Would be fun. You've encouraged me.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for linking these monuments to madness of yore, to current madness, Michael, and for the electronic links to others' sane writings on subjects of madness. Thanks to Jan for her activism and writing, both powerful and lucid.

One thing I puzzle about a lot, is why Americans, of all stripes, are so averse to learning the truth of Palestine. Past and now. Here's one interesting reflection:

p.s. on Hair - all that and Victor Moscoso too? Dude. About exactly a year ago I visited the MoMA in NY, saw some of his posters and thought these look great. Got that funny feeling, though, seeing objets I acquired in my adolescence, in a context of history.


sfmike said...

Dear Ellen: Thanks for the link. It's an instant classic.

Jon said...

Lawrence is one of my all time favorites.