Poll: Was Maine's governor right to remove the 'pro-labor' mural?
When Maine's Gov. Paul LePage ordered the removal of a public mural in late March from the state's Department of Labor building, he unleashed a controversy pitting conservatives against liberals in a vicious cultural debate. LePage's reason for removing the artwork, as reported by various media outlets, was that the mural was "pro-labor" and that it would turn off business interests.
The mural, by artist Judy Taylor, evokes the history of labor through a series of panels, including scenes showing labor activist Frances Perkins talking with a family, workers on strike and workers participating in organized labor activities.
LePage -- who has strong ties to the "tea party" movement -- has defended his decision, stating: "It's the Department of Labor, not the Department of Organized Labor. And until we make that determination, it needs to be neutral." The Republican governor has openly and harshly criticized many left-leaning groups during his career, from the NAACP ("Kiss my butt!") to the Obama administration ("Go to hell!").
Some cultural commentators have pointed out the similarities between the removal of the Maine mural and the destruction of Diego Rivera's artwork "Man at the Crossroads," by John D. and Nelson Rockefeller in 1934. In both cases, a work of public art was censored for what was perceived as leftist content.
The Maine controversy shows no signs of going away any time soon. This week, groups of artists and union leaders rallied in Maine, demanding that the mural be returned and that LePage be recalled from office. And the U.S. Department of Labor is demanding to be reimbursed its contribution to the cost of the mural, which is estimated at $60,000.
Was removing the mural the right or wrong choice? Let us know what you think in our poll...
-- David Ng
Photo, from top: A detail of Judy Taylor's controversial mural (credit: Reuters); Maine Gov. Paul LePage. (credit: Pat Wellenbach / Associated Press)