We’re late to this story, but it’s still outrageous.
New York residents will know that the Empire State Building routinely changes its colors for important events — for example, on Election Day 2008, it was red, white, and blue, and when Obama was declared the winner, it changed to blue. Generally, the lights are appropriately apolitical (they would’ve been red if McCain won). Yesterday, however, was a rare and disturbing break with that tradition, as the Empire State Building turned red and gold to “celebrate” sixty years of Chinese communism.
America and China have a complex relationship. China owns a substantial sum of American debt; America buys a substantial amount of Chinese products; China is putatively communist but largely capitalist; regardless of its economy, China regularly tortures and kills its own citizens; America doesn’t formally “recognize” Taiwan out of respect for China, but regularly sells her AEGIS missile cruisers while China looks the other way; etc. The totality of the circumstances suggests that America’s “friendship” with China is a polite fiction. It’s stretching that fiction too far to celebrate the initial reason for our unspoken enmity. The Cold War is over, but communism is emphatically not something to celebrate.
Unlike the Chrysler Building, the Empire State Building remains predominantly American-owned. One can speculate how much money the building’s owners were offered to change their lighting scheme, but whatever it was, it wasn’t — and would never be — enough. At the risk of skirting the bounds of xenophobia, this ought to be uncontroversial: America’s greatest landmarks remain hers, and should only celebrate her triumphs, and those of her friends.