The dismantling of Confederate statues and monuments in cities across the US, most notably in the South, has been a subject of intense debate. But what about Seattle’s statue of Vladimir Lenin—the infamous, Russian, communist dictator? Supposedly, this is a monument that continues to be protected for its so-called “intrinsic value,” but who gets to decide what has “value” and what does not?
Certainly, Lenin does not represent current, American values any better than Robert E. Lee, Jefferson Davis and P.G.T. Beauregard—statues of whom have been recently taken down because they were “symbols of white supremacy,” as New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu put it.
Under Lenin’s rule, some 9 million people died due to war, food shortages and general terror resulting from his extreme policies. An idyllic leader he was not.
When the statue of Lenin made its debut in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood in 1995, there were some understandable objections. As one local artist, Frederick Edelbut, said, “This is highly inappropriate in this community. It’s not a piece of art. It’s a disgrace, a…symbol of denigration, and a symbol of millions of people who have died in Eastern Europe from communist domination.”
Peter Bevis, who helped get the statue into Fremont, claims its presence isn’t about his own philosophies but rather a display that shows “art outlives politics.”
Apparently, that belief only applies to art that’s liberal-approved, or else the Confederate monuments of New Orleans would still be standing.