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Statues

A surprise good point from Mark Krikorian:

On the other hand, Krauthammer gets a little carried away with himself in the other direction, writing about how our monuments to foreign liberators demonstrate our devotion to "liberty for its own sake." Well, maybe, but he might also be reading a little too much into it. Sure, a Gandhi statue may not have had any ulterior motive, but isn't it possible that statues to Irish, Ukrainian, or Italian revolutionaries might have just a wee bit to do with ethnic pandering? Not that there's anything wrong with that, and his point isn't entirely without foundation, but a little realism (if I might use that word) isn't a bad thing.
All that said, I think public statuary is an unalloyed good and America could use more of it. My favorite pander statue in DC is the Tomas Masaryk monument near the Czech embassy on Massachusetts and 22nd. Meridian Hill Park near my house, however, goes one better by featuring a memorial to James Buchanan, traditional consensus choice as worst president in American history. After that, a question: Who is the Logan of Logan Circle fame?

November 27, 2005 | Permalink

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Comments

"James Buchanan, traditional consensus choice as worst president in American history."

Even trying to discount some historical myopia, it's hard to believe we don't have a new contender.

Posted by: Ken C. | Nov 27, 2005 1:58:23 PM

http://www.cr.nps.gov/nr/travel/wash/dc64.htm

Posted by: blah | Nov 27, 2005 2:03:59 PM

I believe that, like so many of the DC circles and squares, it's named for a Civil War figure. John Logan was a high-ranking general. He was also a politician. Logan was James G. Blaine's running mate in 1884. (He lost, not that he'd be any less obscure if he'd won.)

You can look him up in the Wikipedia.

Posted by: QM | Nov 27, 2005 2:13:40 PM

When they are placed in public places designed for them, fine. When they are large pieces of ugly sculpture that eat up rare urban open parkland, they completely suck. I am sick of greenspace eaten up by Irish Famine memorials, various victims of genocide memorials, etc.

These memorials don't do any good anyway. I was near an Irish famine memorial, a child asked her mother what that was. The mother launched into the most stupid, misinformed telling of the Irish famine (she wrapped it up with talking about global warming) that I almost went over to tell the kid the sad truth.

Parks should be for people to hang out in and children to play, not ego-boosting hideous statuary.

Posted by: Violet Strange | Nov 27, 2005 3:43:19 PM

"Who is the Logan of Logan Circle fame?"

Wolverine?

Posted by: Jon H | Nov 28, 2005 12:21:40 AM

"When they are large pieces of ugly sculpture that eat up rare urban open parkland, they completely suck."

The statues aren't the problem, it's the faux-Classical setting in which they are inevitably placed, with stone instead of grass, sometimes for yards around the statue. Those areas generally turn into dead space full of dead leaves, trash, and perhaps some homeless people getting out of the wind.

But a statue by itself isn't necessarily a bad thing, and they needn't take up much space. On the University of Pennsylvania campus, there's a statue of Ben Franklin, human-scale bronze, sitting on a bench like any other person sitting down for a rest.


Posted by: Jon H | Nov 28, 2005 12:26:45 AM

James Buchanan was not the worst President in Americna history. That dubious distinction belongs to Andrew Johnson for sabotaging Reconstruction and dooming the South to a a century of Segregation and Bourbon rule that we still have not recovered from.

Buchanan, by contrast, did not really have the power to stop secession was things really got out of hand. While he could have done a lot more to position the country into a position where the Confederacy could have been more easily defeated, nobody really could have done much better. Almost anybody could have done a better job than Johnson, however.

Posted by: jalrin | Nov 29, 2005 11:30:31 AM

Don't all the hipsters refer to Meridian Hill Park as Malcolm X Park? (Or maybe Matt is not a hipster.)

I've been all through that park, in various phases of athletic exertion and dissipative inebriation, and I never noticed the Buchanan statue.

Posted by: Monkey Daddy | Nov 29, 2005 10:30:29 PM

50 historians, out of 415 responding, out of 1200 contacted, already agree: W:WPE.

http://gadflyer.com/flytrap/index.php?Week=200548#2401

Posted by: Ken C. | Dec 3, 2005 4:10:31 PM

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