Thursday, October 1, 2009

Being Lit Red and Seeing Red

Americans are seeing red with the lighting of the iconic Empire State Building red and yellow in commemoration of communist China. The AP reported that the building changed colors at dusk on Wednesday and will remain so through Thursday. Anger has been voiced:

Lhadon Tethong, executive director of Students for a Free Tibet, called the lighting "outright, blatant approval for a communist totalitarian system."

Journalist and blogger Marc Masferrer, told the AP that he didn't "think one of our great landmarks should be turned into a platform to honor a regime and a system responsible for as much tragedy and all the other things that come with a repressive system.

Rep. Anthony Weiner (NY-D) said "the lights should not be used to pay tribute to what he called 'an oppressive regime' with a 'shameful history on human rights' and

Rep. Peter King (NY-R) said it was "a sad day for New York. I am strongly opposed to it or any commemoration of the Communist Chinese revolution. It's one thing to acknowledge the government; it's totally immoral to honor it."
When I read about the lights my first question was "who owns the building?" After all, many of our historical buildings in New York are foreign owned. My second question was "if we can accept billions of dollars from China through treasury bonds and have trade agreements with them, why not legitimize their government?"

What are your thoughts?


zorro said...

"Rep. Anthony Weiner (NY-D) said "the lights should not be used to pay tribute to what he called 'an oppressive regime' with a 'shameful history on human rights'

Lights on the Empire state building are a problem but send all our money and jobs a a repressive regime are perfectly acceptable?
The people have thier head stuck in a certain part of thier anatomy.

Judith Ellis said...

Great point, Zorro.

septembermom said...

I don't think it was a wise decision to so publicly display this tribute to China. What does anyone really gain from it? I would rather they color it pink to remember all those who struggle with breast cancer.

Judith Ellis said...

Yes, Kelly, I understand your point and agree. But what do we do with the discrepancy with our doing business with China to such extent that many believe that it is a peril to our own economy? I have growing concerns about this as well as the future generations of Americans competing in the world on a science and technology level.

Marion said...

Judith, I'd much rather be seeing the Empire State Building awash in red, white and blue, but if China owns the building, then they have the right to put up whatever colors they want. It's my understanding that much of the USA is being bought up by other countries. So how can we complain when it's Americans selling them the property? I don't like it, but that's the way it is. Blessings!

Judith Ellis said...

Marion - I would also prefer that the Empire State Building be lit with red, white and blue and issues that are dear to the hearts of Americans like breast cancer that Kelly mentioned. But profit seems to outweigh the will of the people repeatedly whether in private business or government. Even with private business, their is still a voice to be reckoned with which used to be the voice of the consumer. Who leases the building for example and what are their interests?

From my brief research the building does not seem to be owned by China. But I remember my when I was in high school and my brother, Haywood, was quite concerned back then about the interest of other countries like Japan and the Dutch in purchasing buildings in New York City.

It seems as if we will sell anything for a profit. I think this is the way other countries veiw us. I wonder if China paid the Empire State Building Company, LLC. The controlling interest seems to be with the Malkin Family and the estate of the late Leona Hemsley. Although, I need to do a bit more research to confirm this. But this seems most likely to be accurate.

wmmbb said...

Those who pay the piper call the tune, otherwise the lighting might be described as a wake up call.

Thanks Judith for the information.

Corrie Howe said...

At first, I thought it was nice to acknowledge China...not really thinking about the politics. My son spent three weeks there this summer and brought back wonderful pictures and memories.

But I can understand the arguments against.

I liked your question about who actually owns the building. Funny. Although sad.

In the end, I guess there are a lot of other things I'd rather get upset about.

Does this sound wishy-washing enough?

Judith Ellis said...

I agree, wmmbb, and it is my pleasure to say anything that might be informative here. Your blog is a reservoir of such. So, I thank you. I've gotta get over there more often, my friend.

Judith Ellis said...

Corrie - It doesn't sound wishy washy to me. I think these issues are complex. But they are most certainly worth taking a very hard look at. I appreciate your comment and am happy that your son spent time in China. I too have traveled the globe.

Marion said...

Judith, now I'm really curious why the building is lit in 'red' since nobody in China owns the building. This is a hot topic (as they'd say on 'The View') and I'm wondering what the people of NYC have to say about it. Your post is the first I've heard of it, interestingly enough. I can't wait to see what your research turns up!

I think greed is a HUGE problem in our country as was illustrated by the banking/mortgage mess. Where will it end? Will people sell their souls for a dollar? It's sad, really sad.

Judith Ellis said...

Yes, Marion, greed is a major controlling factor. But I think that it is not just an American problem it's a human problem. From what I have read New Yorkers did not like it at all. Whereas America with its relatively short history do not think long-term, countries such as China and Saudia Arabia do and flex their muscles along the way when we appear at the Olympics or bow to their princes.

The human rights of women, for example, in both places are deplorable but we turn oour cheek. I also have more questions than answers but know that it will take a community of nations to address some things. This is why the Bush's adminstration's disdain for the UN was so deplorable, even though it seems that the UN itself needs to be better. But I personally respect the institution for the voice it gives all nations.

I greatly honor and respect Detroit-born Nobel Peace Prize recipient Ralph Bunche, a major force in the preliminary planning of the UN.

Bob Foster said...

Judith – Here is some info on the Empire State Building:

“On December 27, 1961 Empire State Building Associates, an investment syndicate created by Lawrence A. Wien, purchased a 114 year master leasehold of the land and Building for $36,000,000. At the same time, the Prudential Insurance Company of America bought the title to the Building for $29,000,000. Colonel Crown, as sellers, received the total of $65,000,000, at that time, the highest price ever paid for a New York property.”

Melanie Maasch, Director of Brand Development and Public Relations for the building determines the colors and the events, along with building management.

The lights in question were only scheduled for 2 days – Sept 30 & Oct 1. It may not have been the best choice of lighting events since these dates commemorate the 60th anniversary of the communist takeover of China.

Incidentally, anyone can request a special lighting event by filling out the Empire State Building Lighting Partner application found on the Lighting Partners page of the ESB website.

Trivia: When large numbers of birds are seen flying near the building, the tower lights are turned off. Observatory personnel on the 86th floor outdoor deck notify the engineers. The birds are attracted by the lights and there is a danger they will fly into the building and be killed.

Corrie Howe said...

Thanks, Bob, for the informationl

Judith Ellis said...

Thanks a lot for that information, Bob. I love historical information. I don't think that the ownership remains in the hands of these people any longer. Am I wrong?

Thanks especially for the name of the Brand Development and PR Director. I think I'll give her a call next week and have a little chat. Do you think I'll get through to her? (I'm assuming she's gotten many calls and isn’t taking any more if she indeed ever took any in the first place.) Don't bet against me. :-)

Is it not quite ironic that a request can be made by anyone and that such was made to honor China's 60th commemoration in a country that many believe does not honor its citizens?

Wow! I never thought of the lights and the danger to the birds. But it is wonderful that the Observatory crew is conscious of them and the engineers act accordingly. I love that.

Welcome back online, Bob. Your are always so thoughtful. I have learned so much on your blog and have often been encouraged. I hope the move was good.

Judith Ellis said...

Corrie - Bob has an excellent blog. While he concentrates on small business, there is inspiration there. Pop over.

Corrie Howe said...

I tried to pop over, but his name doesn't link to a you have the address for me to link to?

Judith Ellis said...

Here is the link Corrie: Biz Maverick Blog

Corrie Howe said...

Thanks, added it to my Reader.

Judith Ellis said...

Pleasure, Corrie. I appreciate your blogs too. Thank you.