Carlyle says its art.
Carlyle says it's art. WA Legislature

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This post originally appeared on the person blog of State Sen. Reuven Carlyle.

Thought-provoking political art forces us to engage in civic discourse and prods us to grapple with the discomfort of irony. Unlike the Confederacy statues throughout our nation built to formally honor those in that battle of ideas, this statue is distinctly not showcased in Fremont to celebrate the murderous, painful regime. It is instead installed as a testament to its defeat and the victory of open ideas through the medium and sometimes painful juxtaposition of art itself.

The statue was, simply, installed with artistic intent to show that our very ability to install political art is the triumph of democracy over tyranny. The Wikipedia entry thoughtfully embraces this background argument.

It is important that it is neither a somber, serious memorial to the victims of war nor a shrine to the man. This does not mean it does not evoke pain in those who suffered. It certainly understandably may. Like millions of others, my family left Poland in 1924 following attacks on Jewish villages and made their way to Ellis Island because of the viciousness of the era.

Art can be offensive and painful, but it can also bring us alive with curiosity, wonder, knowledge. Installing a political statue of a man and regime that would never allow installation of political statues of opponents is a symbolic representation of the victory of democracy and freedom over oppression. And of the role of art itself.

The emotion surfaced by art does not always leave us feeling positive or safe. But the freedom and ability to decorate the statue of the enemy of freedom of ideas in political signs should.

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Reuven Caryle is a state senator representing Washington's 36th Legislative District.

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