accomplishments of an unsung female heroine -- rather than take empty pride in merely viewing her token image.
The statue equalizers attack the presence of too many dead white male figures in the Capitol Rotunda such as Abraham Lincoln. But do they know who sculpted that beautiful, full-sized statue? It was Vinnie Ream, the first woman and the youngest artist to ever receive a commission from the federal government for a statue. She was just 18 years old when Congress awarded her the honor. They prized her talent and character, not her chromosomes.
Like Lincoln, Ream rose to success from humble roots. In addition to Lincoln's sculpture, she designed a statue of Sequoyah in Statuary Hall at the Capitol and built the first major monument to a U.S. Navy Officer (Admiral David Farragut) in Washington, D.C. Ream was also a role model of compassion, using her talents as a writer and singer to cheer wounded soldiers and give concerts in Civil War hospitals.
Of course, you wouldn't know all this from just looking at Lincoln's statue. There's no foot-high stamp on Honest Abe's forehead that reads: "FEEL BETTER? THIS STATUE SCULPTED BY A POOR YOUNG WOMAN."
Egad. Sounds like another project for the congressional egotistas.
Here in the nation's capital -- Ego Central, Me-tropolis -- the cult of the "I" carries on.
As if this town didn't already contain enough narcissism to flood the Potomac River, along comes a self-seeking mob of 80 Democrats and 3 Republicans who want to boost the pride of oppressed minorities everywhere by erecting a sculpture depicting "women of color" in the Capitol Rotunda.
House Congressional Resolution 169 directs the Architect of the Capitol "to enter into a contract for the design and construction of a monument to commemorate the contributions of minority women." Taxpayer money will fund this marble quota project if it is approved. Rep. Danny Davis, D-Ill., sponsored the bill, which is supported by most minority and female Democrats in the House -- plus Republicans John Shimkus of Illinois, Connie Morella of Maryland and Marge Roukema of New Jersey.
"Symbols are important," argues Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., a co-sponsor of the self-esteem statue subsidy. "Having a monument honoring minority women really matters in America." Yup, the latest polls show it ranks right up there with solving the energy crisis. The legislation calls for D.C.'s self-esteem memorial to include an "appropriate representative" (read: liberal, pro-choice, anti-business feminist) from each of the following groups:
-- African American women
-- Hispanic American women
-- Asian Pacific American women
-- Jewish American women
-- Native American women
The proposal is the brainchild of a 21-year-old intern in Rep. Davis' office who toured the august chambers of the Capitol Rotunda and left angry after not seeing enough statues that looked like her. There were presidents and military leaders and civil rights leaders and other eminent history-makers. But to the intern's really deep dismay, there were, like, no marble figures of any women chosen first and foremost because of their gender and skin color.
Oh, the injustice!
How many more sob stories must I read about some troubled young thing who visited a museum/art gallery/library/school and felt badly because she didn't see more depictions of people who "looked like me"? Shall we also, in the name of inclusion, erect a mural of draft dodgers on top of the Vietnam Memorial? Construct granite likenesses of the first ladies behind the four presidents at Mount Rushmore? Or mandate a new paint job and name change at the "White" House every month for equal opportunity's sake?
It's too bad these bean-counters who put the "I" in "diversity" are so obsessed with counting the pants and skirts on statues and cataloguing their racial backgrounds. If they paused just a minute from their megalomaniacal crusade to remake the Capitol Rotunda into a multicultural Hall of Mirrors, they might actually expand their horizons and find inspiration in the