Today I had lunch in a nice restaurant downtown (this is in the United States). The food was quite good, the service was friendly, attentive and relaxed. It was a pleasant experience. But I couldn’t help but notice one thing.
In the back of the restaurant, in an alcove and lit from above, there was a portrait of Martin Luther King Jr. The portrait was done in a pointillist style, in blaring oranges, yellows, and black. King was depicted with hands folded, head bowed in deep, soulful thought.
The theme of the restaurant was an small-town Italian bistro. The menu was mostly Italian food on the lighter side. The decor was meant to evoke the plaza of a quaint Italian hillside village, with white and blue tiles, paintings of olive trees, and a chalk drawing of a pretty young girl zooming by on a scooter.
And then there was: MLK deep in soulful thought. There were no other incongruous pieces of art or decoration in the place. There was no indication that the piece was a temporary installation. Rather, the portrait of King was hung in that back space, lavishly lit, visible from every table in the house.
I realized what it was: a religious icon. It was like a statue of Vishnu or a crucifix on the wall. It’s meant to be a quiet, steady reminder of the religion we are all assumed to share. That religion, I’m sure it goes without saying, is the religion of diversity-worship and the shameful, embarrassing fact that Western civilization and white people exist at all.
Just as in a room of believing Christians, a cross on the wall acts as a subliminal reminder of their beliefs to people who might be discussing anything at all (football, the weather, jokes, work); the image of King watches carefully over the minds of otherwise carefree lunchtime diners as they chat about… football, the weather, jokes, work.
Ever-present, ever-watching over us, our kind savior, here in the New World.