Friday, March 25, 2011

'How Can You Say History Is One Sided?'

I have a sense of deja vu all over again in reading that Maine Governor Paul LePage, a Tea Party Republican, has ordered the removal of a 36-foot mural from the state's Department of Labor because he believes it to not be sufficiently pro-business. This is because people in high places repeatedly did the same thing with public-works project murals during the Great Depression because they honored the poor working stiff, had allegedly Commie themes or were done by furriners.

There is some irony in LePage's actions. He is a Franco-American in a state where Franco-Americans have long been honored for their contributions to the state's economy and his wife once was a union shop steward.

That the mural will be moved to Maine's state museum is beside the point. To assert, as LePage does, that the artwork is "one-sided decor" not in keeping with the department's pro-business goals is deeply offensive. As is renaming the labor department's conference rooms, one of which is named for Cesar Chavez, the labor and civil rights leader.

Maine artist Judy Taylor, who was given a state grant to paint the mural, says that "There was never any intention to be pro-labor or anti-labor. It was a pure depiction of the facts."

"How can you say history is one sided?," she asks.

Good question.

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