Reagan celebration: No mugs on Mount Rushmore, please

We are now celebrating the anniversary of Ronald Reagan, who, if the corporate press is anything to go by, came down from heaven exactly 100 years ago to save us all. They are making such a fuss about Ronnie that there is even a proposal to add his handsome features to the rogues' gallery on Mount Rushmore, in the Black Hills of South Dakota.

I have vivid memories of President Reagan, who to me was an older, earlier version of George W. Bush but without the brains. I well remember his famous trickle down theory of economics, whereby the wealth deriving from massive tax concessions to the super rich was supposed to trickle down to the rest of us below.

I did feel something trickling down on my head pretty soon after Reagan came to power, but when I checked, it turned out not to be wealth: It didn't pass the smell test. The same is true of all the rest of Reagan's policies, foreign and domestic: They stank. The tax cuts for the corporations and the rich were a strong factor in stimulating corporate globalization, while they undercut the social safety net for working people and the poor in the United States. The busting of the union representing air traffic controllers brought a thrill to the hearts of anti-worker reactionaries everywhere. The paeans to Reagan we are hearing right now include giving him credit for ending the Cold War and defeating communism. What he did was to help unleash a new tsunami of ravenous, imperialistic capitalism on the entire world. We have not recovered yet.

And such nice friends he had, too! There was not a right-wing dictator or fascist that he did not consider to be "the moral equivalent of our founding fathers", a term which he first applied to the Contras, a group of U.S.-financed cutthroats who were rampaging around in Nicaragua, murdering health workers and teachers, in an effort to overthrow the Sandinista government. His "defeat" of the USSR foisted people like Al Qaeda on the world. He stood up for "freedom", but only the freedom to exploit and oppress.
Right now, there are four faces carved into the granite of Mount Rushmore. As one faces it (I have never been there, but I am looking at a picture) George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are at the left, while Abraham Lincoln is on the right. Between Jefferson and Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt's ugly mug is sort of thrusting forward, trying to get into the limelight, which fits his personality.

What would these four former presidents have thought of the monument? The thrusting, self promoting imperialist Teddy Roosevelt might have liked it. The two transplanted 18th century English gentleman, Washington and Jefferson, would not have cared for it artistically. And Lincoln, that enemy of all overweening pride and ridiculous pomp, would have probably found it terribly embarrassing. He would have had it covered with a giant tarpaulin.

These figures are neither great art nor appropriate for the setting. From an artistic viewpoint, they are world-historical kitsch, bad taste on a literally monumental scale. Apart from ruining a perfectly good mountain, they desecrate one of the sites most sacred to Native American people. The Black Hills were and are considered holy by the Lakota Sioux, and the crags which were eventually chiseled into the likenesses of the four presidents were particularly sacred spots, known as the "Six Grandfathers", who appeared to the noted Lakota religious leader Black Elk in a memorable vision . The war with the Lakotas and their Cheyenne and Arapaho allies which led to the death of George Custer at the Battle of the Little Bighorn was triggered, in part, by the penetration of the Black Hills by white gold prospectors, who were protected by Custer's forces in blatant violation of the 1868 Fort Laramie Treaty. That treaty had recognized the Lakotas' possession of the Black Hills and much other real estate "in perpetuity". "Perpetuity" turned out to mean about 6 or 7 years. Looking up at the 60 foot heads of these four white men, anybody can see that the Fort Laramie Treaty is no longer in force. Symbolism! I am told that local indigenous people are not big fans of the Mount Rushmore sculptures. It would not be necessary to ask why.

So the Native American people, and the people of the United States in general, need another head carved onto Mt. Rushmore like we need another head sprouting from our shoulders. It could set a very bad precedent. Next we might see Sarah Palin's face plastered onto the Statue of Liberty. Let's stop this before it starts.



Post your comment

Comments are moderated. See guidelines here.


  • Reagan lives within our hearts and none of your communistic propaganda will ruin it.

    Your buddies, the USSR, went down partly because of Reagan's good mind and millions were freed. We still know about new lies for old to which we adhere to the principle of the price of eternal vigilance

    You are welcome to preach yours all you want, but I totally reject it.

    Thanks for letting me speak.

    Posted by mykol, 02/19/2011 5:09pm (5 years ago)

  • What really woke me about Reagan was when I read in the news that he as President of the U.S.A. while in Germany in 1970, went to the SS Graveyard in Bitburg Germany, and laid wreaths on the Graves of the fallen Nazis elites. That really started my thinking that the fascist coup-d'-etat was beginning in ernest in America.
    Then of course that unjust behavior was followed by his financing and arming the Contras, who ended up murdering 265,000 citizens of Nicaragua which contributed to the overthrow of the popular Front Sandinista Liberation National or FSLN, the Government which came to power by politically and violently overthrowing the U.S. supported and armed fascist dictator Samosa.
    The cancelling of welfare for the needy, and the destruction of PATCO, the air traffic controllers union, and the subversion of all socialist societies was his deep down anti-worker push towards the Fascist society of might makes right, and the beginning of ending taxing the rich corporations from paying a fair and just amount for the social programes the masses of poor and working people need to enjoy a good living ie Mussolini's corporate rule as fascist pollution efficiency.

    Thats all to say nothing of the cancellation of the programes to attain re-tooling the industrial revolution to the non-pollution solutions such as wind, tidal, and solar power or his harassment of Angela Davis a Teacher in UCLA, because she was a class concious communist, and a progressive supporting numerous necessary causes that would improve the living and working conditions of the American People.

    However, I must not make the mistake of saying he was unusual as presidents go in the U.S.A. when looking back at Washington and Jefferson, both slaveholders and both using the U.S. Constitution for themselves while dinighing the enslaved black workers the same laws that they enjoyed, or such a President as Hayes who was appointed by the unelected Supreme Court, when his opponent recieved more votes then him. He then cancelled the reconstruction of the union army in the south thus putting back the enslavers to ruler position.
    This then ended the reparations to the blacks which now according to the reparations committee amounts to four corporations and a bank which Obama say he won't pay back. That is forty acres and a mule, and the reparations for unpaid labor for the hundreds of years of enslavement won't be paid and the impoverisment of the Blacks will continue because of such a ruling.

    This shows that with the killing of Lincoln by the slaveholders and the refusal to implement the Lincoln liberation reconstruction programe that the path of Lincoln has been subverted and Reagan allowed to fully indentify with the KKK took place in full daylight.

    Bush senior and jr. as oil moguls followed and engrandized the policies of Reagan. There indeed seems a long list of Presidents that are in fact and in essence anti-worker, anti-union, pro aggressive war as foreign policy, and a deep and abiding course of all the depressions for the poor and workers, and the bailouts for the rich, that have occured in the past and are still occuring in the present times.

    What ever happened to the proletariates' U.S. Constitution that says when an elected government no longer serves the needs of the people, the people have the right to alter, or abolish it and replace it with one that does serve the needs of the American people??

    Posted by john, 02/18/2011 11:54pm (5 years ago)

  • Fret not...Anyone who has visited Mount Rushmore is told that there is no more rock suitable for carving. It is imossible to add another face to the mountain without either compromising the other faces or the new one falling to pieces.

    Posted by Greg, 02/15/2011 5:52am (5 years ago)

  • Maybe they could add the heads of Sitting Bull and Crazy Horse and there you have your "Six Grandfathers"!

    Posted by John Whiskey, 02/15/2011 12:36am (5 years ago)

RSS feed for comments on this page | RSS feed for all comments