A portrayal of the Statue of Liberty as a Muslim woman – on display in the office of U.S. Rep. Lou Correa, D-Calif. – is drawing a rebuke from former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
The image first was questioned by an activist organization called We the People Rising, which asked Correa to remove it.
The image, from a high-school student, is part of an art competition, and it shows the Statue of Liberty wearing a hijab, holding a torch across the left side of her body, not the ordinary aloft position signaling a light for freedom.
“While the painting is simply a piece of art created by a local female high school student, its symbolism is clearly political. It evokes imagery similar to other works of art that have circulated since President Trump’s election, such as the popular ‘We The People’ poster of a woman wearing an American flag as a hijab,” the Washington Post documented.
Now Palin has joined the conversation, tweeting, “‘Statue of Liberty’ Painting Found In Congressman’s Office, Then America Spots Something Unusual,” she said.The group that originally raised the issue of a potential conflict between church and state also posted online a video about the situation:
But the congressman defended the image, telling the Orange County Register, “You take it in the context of a lady, probably a Muslim American – with all that’s going on, she’s a proud American.”
“You guys have a picture out in front of your office with the Statue of Liberty wearing a hijab, which I find reprehensible and disrespectful,” one of the members told a congressional staffer. “I would like to request that you remove it.”
The Post said Mike McGetrick, of We the People Rising, told the congressman, “Ultimately, to attribute a specific religion to the Statue of Liberty is inaccurate, unprofessional and offensive. In addition, the painting displays the torch of the Statue of Liberty, not as the heralded beacon of light, but rather held awkwardly to one side — in a perplexing, even disturbing, manner.”
The Post said the congressman’s office checked with the House Office of General Counsel and was told there was “nothing wrong” with the “photo,” which actually is a painting that was among runners-up in the art contest for Correa’s district.
It was not among the more than 400 winners.
A staff member in the congressional office said the project was part of an art contest, the same contest that a year ago generated another controversy.
That was when a painting from a student in the district of Rep. William Lacy, D-Mo., depicted police officers as pigs.
That painting was removed after Capitol officials determined it violated House rules, but the student, whose name was kept secret, sued, claiming those rules violate his right to free speech and to have his painting on display in the public building.
Correa told the Washington Post it would be very dangerous to police art and “what is proper, what is not.”