Most interesting in the case of the controversial Frank Gehry memorial
to Dwight Eisenhower is that it has brought Ike, our great heartland
warrior, back to the popular front in the face of strong opposition from
establishment figures and government councils. Ike is again a folk
hero, the new man for our times; but this time an antihero rising
against the establishment.
And that would make sense given his famous last words: “We pray that peoples of all faiths, all races, all nations, may have their great human needs satisfied; that those now denied opportunity shall come to enjoy it to the full; that all who yearn for freedom may experience its spiritual blessings; that those who have freedom will understand, also, its heavy responsibilities; that all who are insensitive to the needs of others will learn charity; that the scourges of poverty, disease and ignorance will be made to disappear from the earth; and that, in the goodness of time, all peoples will come to live together in a peace guaranteed by the binding force of mutual respect and love.”
A breathtaking speech, often underscored by his fair warning of a rising political establishment like that which today hopes to caricature his fateful life and work: “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. … We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”
TAKE NOTHING FOR GRANTED. Special Agent Fox Mulder (“Trust no one.”) could not have said it better. Followers of “The X-Files,” which speaks to federal dominance and control, will recall that Mulder amended Ike’s famous warning to read “the military-industrial-ENTERTAINMNET complex,” so relevant today as the American entertainment industry has become — as Aldous Huxley predicted it would early on — a soft propaganda machine, tweaking and amending the meaning of totalitarianism and bringing it to a global scale.
The remarkable thing here is that defense of Ike does not come from the current Eastern conservative establishment — they are still pitching Jeb Bush to vindicate over time miscreant brother W’s dark forays and save the family rep — it comes from outsider blogs like mine and countercultural press like The Huffington Post.
In the midst of this controversy, the only current full analysis of the “flawed selection process” by the Eisenhower Memorial Commission, which rejected public tradition and favored “closed competition, which considered only registered architects and heavily favored experienced designers with established reputations,” comes from Sam Roche of the Huffington Post.
Eisenhower, like Katniss Everdeen, is antihero to a rising generation.