There is a civilized way to defuse statues when they become embarrassing.
Every statue of politicians is embarrassing if you ask me. What is it with humans who build statues to other humans? Not to mention humans who build statues to themselves. On my tax money. We should know better by now.
But of course the supply of humans who have an unstoppable ambition to boss over other humans is inexhaustible. And they all want to leave their little marks – so there will always be monuments and ceremonies, throwing dust in our eyes.
But later, when the dust settles, we spit out and are no longer high on the propaganda, all we will see is a statue to a power-hungry politician we used to think was better than us. And we are ashamed to remember. And if we are smart and sober, we silently get rid of those statues. (And hopefully, stop building new ones.)
But until then the monuments that are already up should be somehow dealt with. And an angry mob tearing them down only victimizes them. Don’t give them that renewed attention. And don’t let those with a softer mind start looking for counter-intuitive excuses and justifications for old politicians and dictators – just because the dictator cannot be all bad, right?
So unless you are the euphoric population of a city who just got rid of a nasty dictator that killed your family and took away your economic control, don’t perform cathartic acts of statue demolition. Do this instead.
Visit the Memento Park in Budapest
“The way Hungary treated this sensitive topic is to be considered exemplary even in international terms.”
Árpád Göncz, President of Hungary (1991-2001)
We call it the “Statue Park” and that’s what it is. Shortly after the bloodless, revolution-less regime change of 1989, hideous communist statues of dictators, mass murderers and their not-at-all innocent ideologues have been methodically removed and transported to an empty park near the city limits – opposite a new golf club.
There they can be visited by Western tourists who want a cheap thrill (“How awful…“) before their foie gras downton, school groups who need to teach what not to do again – or at least with a better excuse – and artists with an agenda. And in the meantime the statues don’t bother the victims of authoritarian oppression.
In the words of its designer:
“This Park is about dictatorship. And at the same time, because it can be talked about, described and built up, this Park is about democracy. After all, only democracy can provide an opportunity to think freely about dictatorship.”
Sadly, we still haven’t stopped building new statues, even to long-dead politicians, but that’s the topic of another lament.