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Thoughts on why Lenin statue should not be removed.

August 17, 2017

lenin.jpg

Thought-provoking political art forces us to engage in civic discourse and prods us to grapple with the discomfort of irony. Unlike the Confederacy statues throughout our nation built to formally honor those in that battle of ideas, this statue is distinctly not showcased in Fremont to celebrate the murderous, painful regime. It is instead installed as a testament to its defeat and the victory of open ideas through the medium and sometimes painful juxtaposition of art itself.

The statue was, simply, installed with artistic intent to show that our very ability to install political art is the triumph of democracy over tyranny. The Wikipedia entry thoughtfully embraces this background argument.

It is important that it is neither a somber, serious memorial to the victims of war nor a shrine to the man. This does not mean it does not evoke pain in those who suffered. It certainly understandably may. Like millions of others, my family left Poland in 1924 following attacks on Jewish villages and made their way to Ellis Island because of the viciousness of the era.

Art can be offensive and painful, but it can also bring us alive with curiosity, wonder, knowledge. Installing a political statue of a man and regime that would never allow installation of political statues of opponents is a symbolic representation of the victory of democracy and freedom over oppression. And of the role of art itself.

The emotion surfaced by art does not always leave us feeling positive or safe. But the freedom and ability to decorate the statue of the enemy of freedom of ideas in political signs should.

Your partner in service,

Reuven.

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. August 17, 2017 4:55 pm

    I respectfully disagree. This argument only carries so far anyway – we were an political opponent of Hitler, but it still wouldn’t be appropriate to have a statue of him installed. Part of the issue here is many people don’t understand how terrible Lenin really was. He founded the Cheka (which became the KGB) and created the concentration camps for political enemies (which became GULAG). I really do appreciate that the statue continuously has “blood” on its hands and is mocked in other ways, but I have gone there and found flowers at its feet too. I truly don’t think we’re at a place where we can rise above the oppression through irony yet, though I understand where you’re coming from.

  2. Robert Stevens permalink
    August 17, 2017 5:23 pm

    We cannot change a moment of our history by removing monuments. More importantly, Mayor Murray wants to violate private property rights and that is not negotiable. This is simply another distraction from addressing real problems and a feeble attempt to divert attention from the Mayor’s severe and very real problems.

  3. August 17, 2017 6:57 pm

    Thank you for this thoughtful perspective

    Sent from my iPad

    >

  4. Larry shannon permalink
    August 17, 2017 7:32 pm

    Reuven-

    I totally agree with you and I am somewhat offended by the attempts to create some kind of a false equivalency with the Confederate monuments in the statute around the country. Having been a resident of this area all my life, I have thoroughly enjoyed the statute being installed commemorating a great victory in the Cold War. I find these attempts to create an equivalency pathetic. I have really tried to see if I care about these people who want it removed. I decided I’m pissed at our mayor for playing up to that mindset. Let us keep our original thought and perspectives as part of our public display of art, and remember that this is actually a great historical artistic piece we have installed to commemorate a great historical victory.

  5. Max permalink
    August 17, 2017 9:47 pm

    Supporters of the confederate statues claims that they don’t stand for slavery and the likes and people that interpret it that way are mistaken. Seems to me you are using the same logic here. To you this might be an artistic and thought provoking statue but for others it continues to invoke the atrocities that Lenin supported. While it might not be a one for one match in logic it is close enough. By saying it’s different you are going to continue to increase the political divide rather than bringing people together.

  6. Harriet M Wasserman permalink
    August 18, 2017 6:22 am

    I agree with you. The reason and history of the Fremont statue is completely differrent from memorials supporting the confederacy, or any other regimes.

  7. Sam Stewart permalink
    August 18, 2017 12:44 pm

    Max, you are exactly right. Those commenting here for support for the Lenin statue are wishfullyprojecting their Communist fetishes. It doesn’t surprise me coming from Seattle.
    Larry Shannon–
    “I have thoroughly enjoyed the statute being installed commemorating a great victory in the Cold War”.

    It is a “statue” Larry, not a “statute”.
    Either way, did you not realize anyone could make the same claim about Robert E Lee?
    “The Union won, so let us erect statues of Conderate Soldiers”.

    Just admit you idolize him. Its obvious….

  8. Michael O'Farrell permalink
    August 18, 2017 4:01 pm

    Mayor Murray is just trying to deflect attention from the 3 or 4 men that acused him of raping them when they were children.

  9. Lynn permalink
    August 19, 2017 7:53 am

    Through this statue’s presence my son has learned about this horrible era in history as it sparked interest and discussion. To have this statue here (esp. with a bright red nose on it around the holidays!) absolutely must have Lenin rolling in his grave. The ultimate defeat is this statue standing right in Fremont mocking it’s own likeness as it represents victory over tyranny- much more than simply trying to erase history and never learn from it.

  10. Lois schwennesen permalink
    August 19, 2017 5:33 pm

    Your thoughtful, knowledgeable comments show an interest in understanding and a desire to help people understand. Thank you. Because it is a strange angry time when angry people call others haters rather than seeking to understand, your words are courageous. In the political world today your comments could receive thoughtless criticism, simply because you have not engaged in “groupthink” all of us could use some discipline and thinking things through for ourselves more clearly.
    It concerns me that people feel righteous when they shout that other people are bad. Thank you for being brave; you’re a good public servant

  11. August 20, 2017 2:13 pm

    It’s amazing the direction perverse rationalizations can take people. The Lenin statue is declared art with an artistic message, so it must not be touched. LOOK AT THE STATUE: Lenin is shown here as arrogant and determined and far from having experienced permanent defeat. This statue is as good an example of socialist realist “art” as any in communist countries. Lenin, in what is essentially propaganda art glorifying the mass murderers that made the victory of communism possible in that part of the world, was always depicted either with a raised fist calling on people to vent the hatred he has fed them toward “enemies of the people” or he is shown on the move symbolizing the expansion of his tyrannical communist empire. Here he is shown in the later standard. Just looking at the statue, the central idea appears to be that though the huge concentration camp which Lenin erected – the Soviet Russian empire – suffered a setback in his homeland, Lenin’s spirit is advancing in other parts of the world with Seattle counting itself as a sanctuary city for Lenin’s legacy. This is not what a statue of victory over the Leninist legacy would look like. This statue is very much in the tradition of statues of him in communist countries.

    People with roots in countries that fell under communist tyranny can see in the statue only a personification of Evil walking over the bones of millions of victims of the Red Terror he instituted soon after coming to power (records show that 2000 were executed daily in just the city of St. Petersburg), over the skeletons of thousands that perished from hard labor, starvation, and brutality in the dozens of concentration camps he managed to establish in a short period of time (he was the father and architect of the GULAG archipelago – the system of slave labor, concentration camps), of the thousands of priests, teachers, members of the intelligentsia he had executed just for their professions. He shut down hundreds of churches, stripped them of everything that could be sold and then even managed to take some of the loot for himself. They see him as the big enemy of nations of the collapsed Czarist empire whose attempts to realize their national self-determination were crushed in bloody invasions, most of those being ordinary peasants and not some wealthy exploiters as he demonized them. He is seen as the merciless confiscator of food and crops who callously waved off the deaths of millions in famines in Ukraine and southern Russia (1921-1923) for the sake of feeding his stalwart cities in the heart of Russia.

    For a long time the death of those victims, millions in number, were dismissed as people who deserved to be killed, since they stood in the way of the communist reconstruction of society in the mold of cogs of huge Leviathan. This is exactly the way communists and their fellow travelers wanted the victims of communist terror and genocides to be viewed. With this statue standing on its grounds Seattle has made itself an island of lunatics worshipping a god in the mold of Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Pol Pot, and calling it a celebration of art. Oh well, the ripping of people alive by lions in the Colosseum was similarly considered entertainment. This is the rationalization of people for whom the fact that Lenin was a bloodthirsty tyrant, one of the worst, just doesn’t register in their mind because the murder of certain people just doesn’t carry the same weight as others. A professor at Dartmouth College is seen saying this in an interview with Democracy Now’s Amy Goodman as a defense of Antifa’s violence (can be seen on Youtube). This is the legacy of the “harmless” statues inplanted in the minds of harmless new Lenin warriors.

  12. steve shay permalink
    August 26, 2017 7:51 am

    I cannot improve upon Lidia Love’s above comment. I’ll add that art is art, whether it is Lenin or Robert E. Lee, for better or worse. I find it quaint that our local politicians feel compelled to school the rest of us on what they deem artistic (Lenin) and ugly marble fit for removal (Confederate statues.)

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