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Protesters want statue out of Nixon library
By Sandra T. Molina, Staff Writer
Posted: 10/01/2009 05:54:49 PM PDT
The Nixon Library in Yorba Linda has received a petition put forward by a group of Chinese-Americans in protest of its statue of the Chinese Communist Leader Mao Tse-tung.
(Correspondent photo by Mike Mullen)
[size=18]Nixon Library Controversy [/size]
YORBA LINDA - Even 15 years after his death, Richard Nixon is still a lightning rod for controversy.
On Thursday protesters stood on the sidewalk in front of the 37th president's museum to object against a statue of the late Communist leader Mao Tse-tung.
A handful of people carried signs and tried to get signatures to have the lifesized bronze statue of Mao sitting on a bench with Chou En-lai removed from the Richard Nixon Presidential Library & Museum, said Anthony Curtis, director of marketing.
They were led by anti-communist activist Kai Chen, a former Chinese national basketball player, who's gathered more than 200 signatures on his Web site demanding the removal of the statue.
"I understand their concerns," Library Director Timothy Naftali said.
"This is a debate about an exhibit we inherited," he said. "It's been our mission to transition from a private library to a public one."
Mao's likeness has been in the World Leaders' Gallery since the library opened in 1990 as a private institution sponsored by the Richard Nixon Foundation.
Nixon himself was integral to the display, Naftali said.
"He helped design the entire museum beginning two years before its opening," said Naftali, who is a Cold War scholar.
A quote from Nixon - "They are leaders who have made a difference. Not because they wished it, but because the willed it" - overlooks the 10-statue display.
The other leaders depicted include France's Charles de Gaulle, Egypt's Anwar Sadat, Britain's Winston Churchill and Soviet leaders Leonid Brezhnev and Nikita Khrushchev.
"Their presence in the museum does not imply that the United States government has a position on their legacies," Naftali said.
Since the summer of 2007, the library has been run as a scholarly institution overseen by the National Archives and Records Administration.
"As a public institution, one of the challenges for us is to be mindful of the public concern," Naftali said.
A disclaimer has been posted near the world leaders exhibit. The Nixon Library in Yorba Linda has recieved a petition against its statue of the Chinese Communist Leader Mao Tse-tung by some Chinese-Americans.
(Correspondent photo by Mike Mullen)
Chen, who came to America in 1981, said he was shocked by the statue's existence during a visit to the museum last year.
"I was so upset when I saw it, especially among democratic leaders," he said. "There's something very wrong about it."
Chen called Mao "a murderer."
Naftali said there are no plans to remove the statue.
"We are gradually updating the museum, but there is no timetable as to when the `World Leaders' gallery will be updated," he said.
Naftali added that while there are no plans on the overhaul of the leaders gallery, the remodeled Watergate exhibit is nearly complete.
"I will pay attention to what eventually happens to the gallery," Chen said. "I've presented my case; it's up to the library now."
(562) 698-0955, Ext. 3029
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