Friday, June 11, 2010

No Mother Theresa, No US Marines, but...

In this Sept. 30, 2009 file photo, the moon rises above New York as the Empire State Building is lit in red and yellow in honor of communist China's 60th anniversary. Catholics are criticizing the owners of the landmark skyscraper for declining to illuminate it in honor of the late Mother Teresa, who would have turned 100 on Aug. 26, 2010. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

“[T]he death of ten to twenty million people is nothing to be afraid of.”
—Mao Tse-tung

"Human rights are not a privilege conferred by government. They are every human being's entitlement by virtue of his humanity. The right to life does not depend ... on the pleasure of anyone else.”
—Mother Teresa

Empire State Building disses U.S. Marine Corps, refuses to honor soldiers with scarlet, gold lights

The few. The Proud. The Dissed.

The U.S. Marine Corps, like Mother Teresa, is being barred by the Empire State Building from starring in lights.

"We were rejected," said Gunnery Sgt. Alex Kitsakos of the Marines' public affairs office in midtown, who asked for the building to be lit scarlet and gold in 2008 on the Marines' Nov. 10 birthday.

"Of all the silly things they would consider lighting the building for, they wouldn't light it for the Marine Corps?" he asked. "Whoever it is that's running the building, they certainly could be making better decisions about who it is that they choose to honor."

Anthony Malkin, the developer whose family owns Manhattan's tallest skyscraper, has refused all calls to light the tower blue and white on Aug. 26, Mother Teresa's 100th birthday. A statement from the building Thursday said it does not honor religious figures or organizations.

"We are privately owned and our policies and practices are subject to change in accord with ownership's preferences," the building said.

"We are saddened by the hateful words and messages being generated both for and against lighting for Mother Teresa," it said. "We surely wish that the emotions of those in favor be directed towards good actions of community service in the spirit of their views, and that those who are against be dignified and respectful in their dialogue."

The Albanian nun tended to the sick and ailing in Calcutta's slums, and her Sisters of Charity order opened a convent in the Bronx to care for the poor here.

News of the Marine refusal came as City Council Speaker Christine Quinn called on all New Yorkers to volunteer in Mother Teresa's spirit on her 100th birthday on Aug. 26 - and to light their own windows blue and white, the colors of the Sisters of Charity.

"We're not going to wait for the Empire State Building to make sure that her light is alive and strong in New York City," Quinn said, shortly after getting off the phone with Malkin in another attempt to convince him.

"He has a building with a lot of lights, but he's just one man," Quinn said. "If thousands of New Yorkers put these lights in their windows on Aug. 26, we'll send a message that Mother Teresa's work is alive and well."

Friends have tried to work out a compromise with Malkin, a third-generation real estate scion who has earned acclaim for renovating the aging tower. One reported Thursday: "There is no deal."

Commemorating Mao but Not Mother

Where's Anita Dunn when you need her?

Recall Anita Dunn, who resigned as President Obama's communications director not long after Glenn Beck had the temerity to broadcast her jaw-dropping affirmation, made in a church no less-at a high-school baccalaureate ceremony-that her two favorite philosophers were an extraordinarily unlikely pair: Mao Tse-Tung and Mother Teresa. (Click here.)

I'm not sure of Dunn's current whereabouts, but I'm certain the management department at the Empire State Building in New York City could benefit from her input. Readers might recall the last time I wrote about the Empire State Building: I grappled with the astounding image of the building's top aglow in red and yellow to commemorate the birth of Red China. Yes, unbelievably (click here), the Empire State last October paused to recognize Mao's communist China, which was responsible for 60-70 million deaths, the single greatest slaughter of humanity in history, dwarfing Hitler's terror by six-fold.

New Yorkers apparently were oblivious to such vital facts-or were aware and simply didn't care-as they strolled along Madison Avenue slurping Smoothies and reading their New York Times under a blood red (and yellow) sky.

But why do I revisit such sordid recent history? Wasn't it embarrassing enough to suffer this once?

Well, it turns out the brain-trust in charge of deciding which symbols (and revolutions) to elevate in New York-the same brain-trust that offered up this crowning touch for Chairman Mao-are refusing to light up for ... brace yourself, Mother Teresa.

The Empire State Building Lighting Partners rejected a request made by official application, backed up by a nationwide petition, to recognize this paragon of virtue. That's right, Mao's dystopia was honored for its 60th birthday, but Mother Teresa will not be acknowledged for the centennial of her birth this August 26.

I wish I were joking, but, sorry, you can't make this up. (Click here.)

Indeed, who, or what, would be so perverse as to even think it up? It sounds like a plot right out of the Screwtape Letters, though the Prince of Darkness had a tendency to be more subtle than this.

So, the saintly nun who comforted the sick as they died in her arms in destitute Calcutta, soothing souls in their final earthly moments, an act of sheer selflessness she did as "something beautiful for God," was refused. To the contrary, Red China, byproduct of a murderous Marxist despot, where collectivization starved to death more people in three years than Mother Teresa could meet in a lifetime, was recognized.
Chairman Mao is howling from his grave.

By my recollection, the only juxtaposition possibly more strange was the Obama White House considering banning a crèche at Christmas while, simultaneously, sanctifying the White House Christmas tree with a most curious ornament: a twinkling little comrade Mao. (Again, unbelievable, I know-click here.)

Christ at Christmas? Maybe. Mao at Christmas? Yes.

Mother Teresa honored? No. Mao's Red China honored? Yes.

Of course, this is a travesty, but one hardly surprising, given the state of American culture, the people Americans elect, and America's educational horrors, especially the failure to teach the horrors of communism. Bill Donohue and his Catholic League are protesting the Empire State Building's blacklisting of Mother Teresa, and a petition is circulating.

I, for one, wouldn't be surprised if the city and ACLU got involved and upheld the decision out of respect for "church-state separation." Why not heap absurdity upon absurdity? Besides, such would be yet more delicious irony: Mother Teresa, modern saint, banished because of faith; Mao, militant atheist who booted out the missionaries and declared war on religion, illumined.

There's one positive achievement from this episode: It exposes as nonsense what we were told by defenders of the Empire State's Red China recognition last October: No big deal. They recognize all kinds of things.

Apparently, that's not true. They are exclusive in their inclusiveness; intolerant in their tolerance; discriminating in their diversity. Their moral and verbal gymnastics allow for evil's coronation but a blackening of one who truly served the Light.

And so I ask: Where's Anita Dunn when you need her? At least Anita Dunn, confused as she was, found room in her mental-philosophical universe for both Mao and Mother.

Of course, those of us upset by this will be told we're over-reacting, and that there's surely good reason for these decisions. Sure-always is.

But it's our silence in the face of such blatant acts that creates a culture where people don't know the difference. The other side is quite audacious, why must we always be silent?
Alas, I have a suggestion for New Yorkers unhappy with this: On the day which would have been lit for Mother Teresa, light a candle and place it in your home or office window. Now that would be a symbol.

- Dr. Paul Kengor is professor of political science and executive director of The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. His books include "The Judge: William P. Clark, Ronald Reagan's Top Hand," "God and Ronald Reagan" and "The Crusader: Ronald Reagan and the Fall of Communism."

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