You’ve got to be kidding.

A public art show in a Florida town fell apart because the mayor fretted that two of the participants are communists. If they didn’t drop out, the show could not go on. So said Vince Lago, new mayor of Coral Gables. So, this message is for him.


Yo, Vinny, are you feeling wistful for the ‘50s, those Red Scare days when Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy scored big with communist hysteria? Are you so nostalgic that you can’t see that you’re fretting about the wrong thing, that worrying about Communism in Florida, where democracy teeters from the weight of voting rights restrictions, is rank pietism?

It’s no wonder that the curator of the show, Lance Fung, resigned after your city commission threatened defunding the project if artists Sandra Ramos and Cai Guo-Qiang didn’t bow out. The only thing missing from your decision, Vinny, is that famed question of yesteryear asked of artists, “Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?”

Silly question

Such was the House Un-American Activities Committee question. But think of it, Vinny, is there anything more un-American than taking the vote away from Florida citizens? What is driving your concern exactly? Surely, it’s more than what you told Artnet, that in the past, Ramos and Cai expressed sympathy for their native lands – Cuba and China, respectively.

Accusing Ramos and Cai puts them in the same category as those incriminated by McCarthy – writers like Langston Hughes, actors like Orson Wells, composers like Leonard Bernstein and singers like Lena Horne. And like their art, there’s nothing subversive about theirs. Ramos installed a 32-foot walkway of lightboxes to symbolize a bridge between Florida and Cuba.

And Cai’s handmade silk Chinese lanterns he calls his Fireflies.

You said what?

And Vinny, did you really say at a town meeting, “Where my dialogue ends is people who sympathize with oppression, tyranny.” Do you ever listen to yourself? Is there anything more oppressive or tyrannical than keeping Floridians from voting?

Think, Vinny.

Think. You certainly weren’t when you told the Miami New Times how you want to make sure that Coral Cables doesn’t support artists loyal to a "country that does not support democracy and freedom." You mean like the democracy and freedom Florida voters have? That kind, Vinny?

You really need to pay attention to inconsistencies in your public statements, Vinny. Praising the art show in June and July in commission meetings, saying that it can make Coral Gables “a real cultural arts destination,” and canceling it in August is curious, don’t you think, Vinny? Or can it be that canceling the show wasn’t your idea, that it came out of a phone call from Mira Largo. Is that it, Vinny?