21 September 2007


I should have made clear in the last post what "political repression" is. It means the Gulag. Or, for the less fortunate (or possibly more fortunate, if you consider what life in the Gulag was like), "ten years without the right to written correspondence," which I've learned in the course of my research actually meant execution by firing squad. But the families of those who were shot often didn't find that out until near the end of the ten years.

Also, a reader named Kostya, who I don't know (but I assume he's Russian), made the following comment:
Well. The American Civil War ended like 150 years ago. The US of A definitely solved all the problems with Confederate symbols, didn't it?

To which I respond:
I wasn't criticizing Taganrog for not changing the street names. I just think it's funny, if you consider the post-Soviet response to Communist ideals and figures, that it was Lenin (who still has a shrine on Red Square and a statue in essentially every city in Russia) and not Dzerzhinskii (who has, what? a vandalized statue with a missing nose somewhere in a sculpture garden in Moscow?) who got his street name taken away. (To be fair, Dzerzhinskii has a little more than that, including, probably, streets in a lot of cities, but I think the statue, which is in the sculpture garden next to the new Tretyakov gallery, reflects his popularity pretty well.)

Besides the fact that people still fly confederate flags, there are roads, monuments, etc. all over the American South dedicated to Confederate leaders. I would argue that it's a slightly different phenomenon than that of retaining Communist names in post-Soviet Russia (slightly more akin to a defeated Chechnya keeping monuments to its failed revolutionaries, if that were to happen sometime in the future). But I see your point.

I decided to post that here instead of leaving it in the comments because I feel bad that sometimes I forget that things I write here can be insulting to Russians. I don't mean to be!

1 comment:

Nana said...

I'm less interested by names people keep than I am by the names they bother to erase. I suppose my old history major perspective is that all names are worth keeping, simply as evidence that they passed through and were considered important. I used to get a kick out of driving out the Little River Turnpike in Alexandria and guessing when each part of town came about - Lincolnia, for instance, was vintage Reconstruction, but out in the countryside you get the John Mosby route, named after a guy who was basically a Confederate guerrilla vigilante. Do I like him? No. Would I name a street after him? No. But do I find it interesting that someone did? You bet.