Saturday, April 7, 2007
We talk about monument law every now and then here at propertyprof. And, believe me, there's a lot left to be said on the law of Civil War monuments. Sunday's New York Times brings this article on the debate over what to do with monuments in Iraq. Here's an excerpt:
There may be no starker reminder of Saddam Hussein’s tyrannical rule than the potent symbols he left behind: scores of hubristic statues, murals, frescoes and other monuments he built all over Iraq to commemorate himself. While many were destroyed in the cathartic celebration and mob violence that followed the invasion, many others still remain, serving as a constant echo of Mr. Hussein’s all-consuming authority and setting off the same range of emotions, from swollen Baath pride to desperate fear, that he inspired while he was alive.
Now the nation is trying to figure out whether to save these objects as memorials to history or wipe them out. The debate goes to the core of a wounded nation’s effort to redefine itself and reconcile with its painful past. In recent weeks, the matter has crystallized around Iraq’s most famous landmark, the Victory Arch, two sets of gargantuan crossed swords held by giant fists modeled after Mr. Hussein’s. The government had begun to tear it down, but an influential lobby, including the American Embassy, has blocked the dismantling for the time being. . . .
The monuments committee wants to save one of the Victory Arch’s four swords and melt the other three for new monuments, according to Mr. Tamimi, who envisions a Baghdad full of sculptures honoring dancers, poets, artists, the “kings of ancient civilization” and even the first American soldier killed in the Iraq War. . . .
“The removal process of this committee,” Mr. Tamimi said, “is itself a form of rebuilding.”
As I said last summer in the context of discussion of a discussion of whether to rename Penny Lane, moves to rename (or remove monuments) face a host of issues, including whether by removing names, we forget the lessons of the past. The decision whether to keep monuments to the past in Iraq is a tough one, for sure. As I've commented in another context, the same monument may mean very different things to different people.
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