Other Memorials

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Aug. 30 2011 10:55 AM

Other Memorials

After finishing up work yesterday, I biked down to southwest D.C. and got my own look at the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial. An art critic pal had done his best to lower my expectations for a kitschy, morally questionable hunk of not-too-much. That's the thing about lowered expectations -- get them down far enough and you end up being impressed. The "Stone of Hope" was a clever design (MLK's stone appears to have been cut from the "Mountain of Bigotry," which I think is located somewhere in Yoknapatawpha County), and the quotes chosen for the wall around the scene were -- dare I say it? -- bold and interesting. It's arresting to see a quote attacking the Vietnam War etched in stone just five minutes away from the places where the Best and Brightest plotted the thing.

I was inspired to love my fellow man. I was also inspired to make some jokes about other potential monuments. Like these:

The Barack H. Obama National Monument -- A series of unfinished train tracks that lead up to an unfinished statue of the man himself, apparently in the middle of a speech. It costs an estimated $150 billion to build; attendance is mandatory for all American citizens.

The Glenn Beck National Monument -- Exactly like MLK's, but twice as large, and constantly on fire. Two days after opening, it closes to the public and is replaced by five smaller monuments.

The Ron Paul National Shrine -- An exact replica of the FDR memorial, except that everything has been crushed by enormous hunks of gold.

The Dick Cheney National Monument -- Statues of Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, John Edwards, and Saddam Hussein in various stages of Dante-esque torment, under a plaque that reads "We Should Have Listened."

The Mitt Romney National Reflecting Pool -- Visitors look into it and see whatever they want to see.

The Ayn Rand National Memorial -- Vistors walk into a 120-story skyscraper made completely out of high-tech metal and take an elevator up to see a 50-foot sculpture composed of pieces from other monuments. Why? Because the people honored by those other monuments were pathetic and weak.

You've got other ideas, I'm sure. Leave 'em in the comments.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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