Mark P. Shea is a popular Catholic writer and speaker. The author of numerous books, his most recent work is The Work of Mercy (Servant) and The Heart of Catholic Prayer (Our Sunday Visitor). Mark contributes numerous articles to many magazines, including his popular column “Connecting the Dots” for the National Catholic Register. Mark is known nationally for his one minute “Words of Encouragement” on Catholic radio. He also maintains the Catholic and Enjoying It blog. He lives in Washington state with his wife, Janet, and their four sons.
In Arlington National Cemetery a coalition of white businessmen from various southern states just put up a statue of Adolf Hitler on D-Day to commemorate his work in helping to create so many of the hallowed dead being honored there. Some have objected to this controversial decision, but the businessmen have waved aside the complaints by saying that it was certainly not their intention to honor Hitler with the statue, merely to remind people that he too played an an important role in the history of the American military.
Oh! Wait! It wasn’t a statue of Hitler at all! And it wasn’t in Arlington National Cemetery! It was a statue of Joseph Stalin and it was unveiled at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, VA. The brain-dead geniuses who decided to do this explained that the bust wasn’t meant to honor Stalin, merely to point out the fact that this very bad man was leader of the Soviet Union in the struggle against Germany.
Okay. So why no bust of Adolf Hitler too? He was, after all, even more involved in D-Day than Stalin was.
I’ll tell you why. Because the grammar of statuary says “A bust connotes that very great honor is being paid to the subject of the bust.” And that’s the problem with honoring a monster who killed more people than Hitler and then trying to pretend you aren’t honoring him. It’s like putting Osama bin Laden on the dollar bill and then saying, “We’re doing it to remind people of the terrible crime he committed.” The medium is the message.
The real reason our Chattering Classes do this sort of stuff with Soviet statuary and not with Nazi statuary is because our local American politics has a tortured history with respect to racial bloodshed, but not so much with class warfare bloodshed. In my home town of Seattle, we have for years honored the architect of Soviet Communism, Lenin, with a statue that our wise city fathers purchased from Russia at great cost. It’s funny, doncha see? Local color. Part of our wacky free-spirited Fremont neighborhood counter-culture. Har de har har. The guy who set up the system of blood and iron that created a Himalaya range of corpses compared to Hitler’s Appalachians is pretty much a local joke here in Seattle because he was, you see, an intellectual, not a racist. Sure he and the Soviets went a bit overboard. But they meant well and, above all, they were intellectual lefties, like your average Seattleite.
Prescinding from the fact that Joseph Goebbels had a Ph.D, what is really going on is simply this: We Americans fought our most devastating war (that would be the Civil War, not World War II) over the question of race and it has tortured our political soul ever since. So we are extremely sensitive to the victims of Hitler’s monstrous racial theories. But we Americans (and Seattleites in particular) don’t have this hypersensitivity to people slaughtered in the name of class conflict. Indeed, if anything, America’s experience of class conflict from the Haymarket Riots through the Great Depression and beyond left millions of Americans (and Seattleites in particular) rather in sympathy with Lefty Labor Leaders who stood up to the Capitalist Boss. So we have never had the visceral reaction to Stalin (who was, in terms of sheer body counts, way ahead of Hitler). Sure he was brutal. But he was trying to salvage his nation from the ruins of Capitalism and so, golly, he had to break some eggs to make that omelette. Our Chattering Classes, who feel nothing but respect for those who (very rightly) worried about the German-American Bund and other fascist sympathizers in American life during the murderous reign of Hitler, heap nothing but contempt on those who (very rightly) worried about Communist spies and subversives in American life during the vastly more murderous reign of Stalin.
And so we now live in a world where brain-dead members of America’s chattering classes honor Communist mass murderers with busts from coast to coast, while people who are only now digging out from under the rubble of the murderous regime created by Lenin and Stalin are busy pulling them down.
Want to memorialize Stalin without honoring him? Try an image like this, in honor of the Poles slain at Katyn. (It was, after all, in defense of Poland that World War II began, though it sure and bloody certain didn’t end that way):
Inscription: Dedicated in Honor and Memory
“Golgotha Of the East”
Dedicated to The Martyrdom of the Poles, Who gave their lives For The Fatherland - Hostages of the War Slain in 1940 by the Soviet NKVD: Officers of The Polish Army, Spiritual Leaders, Intelligensia, Police Officers, Soldiers and Border Patrol Shot in Katyn and Mednoje, Charkow, Minsk-Kuropaty, Kijow - Bykownia…. Tortured and Murdered in Kazakh, Siberia and other areas of the inhumane Soviet Territory.
Oh, but that would blaspheme against the sacred Chattering Class value of separation of Church and Everything, a far greater evil than a wacky Lenin statue in Seattle or a grotesque placement of a bust of Stalin at a D-Day Memorial.