You, whoever you are, who decided it was a good idea to splatter green paint on the floor of the Lincoln Memorial and on the statue of Abraham Lincoln himself, consider this your warning.
This, like a house divided against itself, shall not stand.
How would you like it if someone came to YOUR memorial and splashed green paint on YOUR statue? Oh, I’m sorry; don’t you have one?
There were some who would make war rather than leave a clean, good-looking memorial, and some who would accept war rather than let the memorial be defaced. And the war came.
There are a number of reasons you should not deface the Lincoln Memorial. Leaving aside the obvious (it’s definitely unlawful) and the less obvious (it’s not like he’s wearing a fur coat! What are you doing splashing paint on him?), consider:
1) The Lincoln Memorial is clearly the best memorial. It has a great view of the adjacent reflecting pool, speech- and groundbreaking-performance-friendly steps. It’s square but with classical character. Two of the greatest speeches in history are carved on it (with very, very few typos). And Lincoln sits there, pulling off the rare feat of looking approachable yet carved out of marble. Most sculptures only pull off one of the two.
The other memorials have their points, sure.
The Jefferson Memorial has a nice location, a little off the beaten track, with the Tidal Basin and cherry blossoms once a year to gladden the eye. Its bronze is a little greened with age, but it has lovely quotations festooning the walls. But he’s just standing there, barely larger than life, slowly oxidizing. Lincoln sits in resplendent marble glory, turning his back to Robert E. Lee’s house LIKE A BOSS.
FDR is seated, too, but his memorial includes his dog Fala, and there’s something about a memorial that includes your dog. It seems — off, a little. It’s like one of those pyramids stocked with Everything You Might Possibly Need For The Afterlife, with extra cats and the Pharaonic equivalents of sunscreen and sweaters and reading material.
The Washington Monument, sporting that fancy illuminated sheath, looks as though it was erroneously told there was a costume party and got way, way too into it. There it stands, all dressed up, glaring into the Lincoln reflecting pool, only to find that while it was going Full-Bore Disco Lightshow, the rest of the monuments opted for the Restrained, Classical Look. (Poor Washington Monument, especially this week, when its presence is a constant, unpleasant reminder of the Anthony Weiner scandal.)
George Mason has a memorial, but no one seems aware of this fact. Who is this George Mason character, anyway? What’s he doing here?
Martin Luther King’s memorial is nice, but it loses points for not containing any Big Steps Where You Can Deliver A Stirring Speech.
In summary, unless the forthcoming Eisenhower memorial has some tricks up its sleeve that it has yet to disclose, the Lincoln Memorial is the clear favorite. Why mess with perfection?
2) Of all the presidents to tick off by splattering them with green paint, you choose Lincoln? Not only is Lincoln among the Last Men Standing in this Very Scientific Analysis of Which President Would Win In A Knife Fight, but he’s the only one who has had the power of vampire-slaying imputed to him posthumously. He’s on Mount Rushmore AND the Mall. He’s in your cinema, raking in the Oscars. He’s in your DVD collection, slaying the vampires. He’s a car. He’s a log. He’s the capital of Nebraska. You don’t mess with Honest Abe, or you will have to face the verdict of history, and it will be harsh.
3) Who objects to Abraham Lincoln? What could possibly motivate you? Mary Todd, what are you doing with that paint? Or are you a big fan of George B. McClellan? Were you disappointed that they dropped Hannibal Hamlin from the ticket? Are you, heaven forfend, a John Wilkes Booth aficionado, bothered that Edwin got to steal the spotlight?
I’m sure Lincoln, were he here, would brush it off with a quip. “If I had two monuments,” he’d say, “I wouldn’t be wearing this one. This one needs dry cleaning.”
But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t rise irately on his behalf and administer due punishment. Something slow and lingering — a speech by Edward Everett, maybe. Someone needs a history lesson. Splash that green paint somewhere else.