‘To the dustbin of history!’: Russian writer on Confederate monuments

By Alexander Maysuryan

September 16: The equestrian monument of the Confederate slaveholders’ General Robert E. Lee was removed in Dallas. I draw your attention to a remarkable poster held by an opponent of the demolition: “The radical left is erasing American history.”

“Radical left.” People in the U.S. themselves have a great understanding of who is now redefining the history of the U.S., throwing out (quite rightly!) from their honorable places the defenders of slavery, racism and oppression. There’s a path for them – and it leads to the dustbin of history! Only for some reason, some Russians imagine that the cleansing of American history of its Kolchaks, Denikins, Wrangels, Banderas and other defenders of the past is not an achievement of the left, but rather a “distraction” and “insidious trap of Hillary Clinton.”

It would be great if the former USSR finally removed its monuments of Kolchak, Wrangel, Kornilov, Petlyura, Nicholas II and other bastards (shot or not) who lost our Civil War, as the people in the U.S. are doing with the losers among their “citizens.” But for us such a total purge, alas, is far away. We can only watch in envy.

Among those opposed to removing the “slaveholders,” who are now respectfully and delicately called “Confederates,” the main argument is that if the monument stood for 50 years, then it should not be touched. Even if it is a monument to Generalissimo Franco, Marshal Mannerheim or Boris Nikolaevich Yeltsin. Hey… If you only knew, gentlemen and comrades, how sorry I feel for all these monuments — yes, yes, General Lee, President Davis and all the rest, not to mention Columbus! I’m not joking. As a historian, or at least a person who cares about history, I’m very sorry for them. I’ll say more. I’m sorry for the Bastille — what an architectural monument the vandals destroyed!

Such historical value! How many years it stood, not a miserable fifty, but over four centuries, from 1371 to 1789! And they did not spare it, the rabble, they broke it up, they dismantled such a unique antiquity and wrote in mockery on its ruins: “ici l’on danse, ah ça ira, ah ça ira!” (“Here we dance and everything will be fine!”). They just want to dance the dance, these brainless leftists, horses be damned. It’s just a carnival to them, you see. And for the connoisseur of history, culture and architecture of this time, I want to weep from grief.

The Paris Commune topples the Vendôme Column
And I’m terribly sorry about the Vendôme column that other vandals Paris communards toppled and smashed to smithereens. By that time it had stood for about 65 years, nothing to sneeze at. And they brought it down! The decree was signed on April 12, 1871: “The Paris Commune, considering that the imperial column on the Place Vendôme is a monument to barbarity, a symbol of brutal force and false glory, the assertion of militarism, the denial of international law, a constant insult to the vanquished by the victors, a continuous affront to one of the three great principles of the French Republic – Brotherhood, decrees:

“Article One and only — the column on Vendôme Square will be destroyed.”

Well, it’s true, the Versailles government organized the slaughter of these same Communards and solemnly erected a new column on their bones. So it’s alright. 

In general, I’m very sorry. But you still need to bring it down.

A cartoon from the Paris satirical magazine “Pere Duchene” (“Father Duchene”) on the toppling of the Vendôme column. The revolutionary Father Duchene says to the statue of Napoleon Bonaparte crowning the column: “You’re a rascal, so we’ll bring you down like your fucking nephew!” (That is, the deposed Emperor Napoleon the Third).
Translated by Greg Butterfield

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