Just what the world needs: another heroic statue of Joe Stalin. The New York Times yesterday reported that the Municipal Assembly in Stalin’s Georgian hometown of Gori has just allocated $15,000 to restore a massive statue of the dear leader that had been taken down in 2010.
Nobody likes a good Stalin museum more than we do, and without any doubt the enormous complex in Gori beside the murderous psychopath’s boyhood home is the best anywhere. We’re glad not only that it was not taken down in a spirit of political correctness after the fall of the USSR, but also that most of its exhibits have been preserved in all their kitschy, weird Soviet glory. The cigarette lighter in the shape of a tank, the glass cases filled with gifts that admiring workers from all over the world laid at the feet of the monster, pictures of the monster in heroic poses, the train the monster stole from Nicholas I and used in World War II—no visit to Gori is complete without a stop at the Stalin Museum.
But replacing a statue to this pitiless genocidaire seems just a bit over the line. Conserving the artifacts of the Stalin cult so that future generations can study how a dictatorship presented and memorialized itself is one thing; going around restoring the emblems of the Stalin cult throughout the land seems a little, well, evil. For those who want to gaze on the face of evil, there are plenty of statues in the museum. And busts can be bought in the gift shop.
We doubt that news that Hitler’s hometown planned to build a large statue of Der Führer in the town square would go down well with the civilized world. Georgians need to understand that a Stalin statue has much the same effect. If Gori wants to capitalize on its link to one of the greatest monsters in the tragic history of our species, we have another suggestion: build a world class museum about Stalin’s victims. Putting the communist equivalent of a holocaust museum up in Gori would serve the twin purposes of public enlightenment and economic development.
As for the statue, if the city fathers are so foolish as to put it up, we hope that the citizens will soon come to their senses and tear the ugly thing down.