Virginia's Stalin Problem


The city of Gori in the formerly Soviet Republic of Georgia is not the only place in the world with controversial commemorations to mustachioed mass murderer Josef Stalin. Take, for example, um, Bedford, Virginia?

The small town of Bedford, Va., is home to 21 men who sacrificed their lives on D-Day, June 6, 1944. It is now also the home of one of the world's few public memorial busts of communist dictator Josef Stalin.

Local citizens and organizations have expressed their outrage over the installation of the bust at the National D-Day Memorial, which honored the 66th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy over the weekend. The bust of the Soviet Union's wartime leader was unveiled last week to accompany existing busts of U.S. Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman as well as British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. […]

The president of the D-Day Memorial Foundation, William McIntosh, did not return three calls from The Washington Times. He has told reporters that the foundation merely sought to mark Stalin's role in the war.

Joe Fab, who co-directed and wrote a recent documentary on the story of the soldiers of Bedford, titled "Bedford: The Town They Left Behind," said he understood from an artistic standpoint why one might include a Stalin icon, adding that he likes to "try to keep an open mind" about such things.

"All kinds of art have dimensions and complexity," he said. "If it leads to thoughtful reflection and provokes discussion, then it may have a purpose."

European diplomats and U.S. residents of European descent, unsurprisingly, don't share Fab's appreciation for complexity. The president of the memorial foundation defended the decision here.

Reason on Stalin iconography here.