Tag Archives: luthier

The King of China

The King of China


Apparently, the trend towards outsourcing jobs overseas, extends even into the, seemingly sacred, realm of our national monuments. I mean, sure the Statue of Liberty came from France, but that was a gift, not a contract. Maybe I’m a bit old-fashioned but I expect our national monuments to be built from New Hampshire granite, with love, pride and American craftsmanship, by chubby white people who speak English exclusively.


Not that I think Blacks, Hispanics, or Native Americans should be excluded from these jobs, especially if they pay well, I just don’t imagine them getting so excited about yet another marble monstrosity on the National Mall, to celebrate the empire that enslaved, and/or nearly annihilated their ancestors, and continues to abuses them to this day. That’s just me.


But Martin Luther King is different. I know lots of Black artists and craftspeople who would love to have a part in the design and construction of the Martin Luther King Monument. Today, I’ll bet a lot more people wish the Federal Government had taken that route. But, alas, the job of constructing the massive statue of Dr. King, along with the plaque identifying King and inscribed with one of his most powerful quotes, went to a very competent, and competitively priced, Chinese firm.


While the Chinese firm, quite competently, built the monument to specifications, as it turned out, someone on this side of the world, kind of paraphrased Dr. King’s famous quote. Apparently, a lot of people were not happy about having some low level bureaucrat’s interpretation of Dr. King’s famous quote, attributed so conspicuously, to Dr. King himself.


Almost certainly, Black American craftspeople would have caught the error, and fixed it, before casting it in bronze, saving a lot of embarrassment. In China, however, they simply filled the order to specification, and enjoyed embarrassing the incompetent US government. Sorry, no refund.


So, after enduring this humiliation, the US government scrapped the misquoted plaque, and ordered a replacement. Did the Federal Government learn from its mistake, and hire a Black-owned American business to make the new plaque? No, they went back to China.


This time, a firm from Shanghai, with a checkered reputation, Plack Shaque, won the contract with a bid much lower than the competition. With the deficit crisis raging all around them, and catching a lot of heat for the budget overrun caused by the misquote, who could blame them for trying to save money.


As a result, if you visit the Dr. Martin Luther King Monument on the National Mall, you will see a plaque that reads:


Rev. Dr. Martian Luthier King


I Have Dreem”

Close enough for government work, if you ask me.


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