Friday, 3 July 2020

six grandfathers

The perfect venue to encapsulate all that is controversial and conflicted about the United States of America and its fraught history heir to this awful present, Trump will be the master of ceremonies for Independence Day celebrations beneath the colossal desecration of a mountain sacred to the Lakota people and promised in perpetuity in accordance with the settlement of the Black Hills of the 1868 Treaty of Fort Laramie. The sacred promontory called Tȟuŋkášila Šákpe was renamed in honour of the wealthy benefactor named Charles E. Rushmore who sponsored an unauthorised (they were trespassing on tribal land) prospecting exhibition to the area, and with the discovery of gold in them there hills, the United States promptly withdrew from its obligations of the peace accords.
Interested in promoting tourism to the region (see also), sculptor and white supremacist John Gutzon de la Mothe Borglum (*1867 – †1941) explored the idea of creating a massive monument, the national mythos writ large in the early 1920s. Thinking representing pioneering figures would have limited appeal, Borglum rejected the idea of creating statues in the Needles of Lewis and Clark and their guide Sacagawea, Chief Red Cloud, Chief Crazy Horse and Buffalo Bill Cody instead selected three past presidents and the incumbent as representative of the breadth and depth of the country’s history and legacy to come. Also responsible for the monument to the Confederate Army in Stone Mountain, Georgia, the latter two of Borglum’s giant visages were slightly less genocidal for the continent’s aboriginal population than the first two Founding Fathers featured, all worked zealously to clear Native Americas out for Lebensraum for the Anglo-Saxon settlers with Teddy Roosevelt developing particular ideas about race in later years and continuing a long chain of Indian removals in order to in part create the US national park and wildlife reserve system—Mount Rushmore included. Though usually pictured from a forced perspective so as to not notice the pile of rubble at the base, it is not a work-in-progress any long to be chiselled away at but rather ossified and forcefully enshrining the worst and most shameful aspects of American history that defy reconciliation even when confronted its gigantic faces. Every bit the ahistorical affront as the sculptor’s other creations and those who would commission such memorials, it is designed to intimidate and ought to topple with the rest.