A Monumental Debate

Aug 22 2017
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President Trump’s Comments and Actions are an Insult to our Nation

While blogging about my powerful experience this summer – the visiting of Holocaust sites throughout Europe with a child survivor – I have been continually disheartened by comments from our President.

Often on our trip, a number of us would reflect on the contrast between how Germany has confronted its past and how we have or haven’t done the same here in America.

As I note in Holocaust Education Remembrance Trip | Part One, what is so striking when visiting Berlin is how front-and-center the ownership and denouncement is of their horrific actions during World War II. 

To explain it as simply as I can, everywhere I went, in the most prominent places, there were powerful monuments dedicated to the victims of the Nazi regime. And how do they recognize the Nazis themselves, the soldiers who fought, the generals who led them, the leader of the Party?  As an example, they strategically placed a dirt parking lot over the site where Hitler’s bunker was located.

Now, compare that to what we have done here in the United States.  How have we confronted our guilt of imprisonment, enslavement, and murder of African captives during our country’s foundational decades? 

Here, we don’t see prominent monuments honoring the victims, we see monuments honoring the generals of the Confederacy. We don’t hear frequent and open denouncements of the past and what these perpetrators of hate fought for. We have tributes to those who fought to keep slavery as an American institution. We even see many people openly place Confederate battle flags on their cars or fly it at state capitals.

If the world saw swastikas flying from city halls in Germany, and saw monuments to Hitler, Heydrich, Rommel, and others; if there were obelisks to the Nazi soldiers who fought to keep the concentration camps open – we would all be appalled.

But here at home, we look past what is right in front of us.

We have many who see villains as heroes and their sinful actions as culture. As our President stated: 

“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments.” Trump continued, “Also the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!”

For me, it is sad that we don’t clearly see the moral true north on this issue. There is no ambiguity, there is no ‘both sides’ on this; there is simply right and wrong.  

I personally will not miss any commemoration of the slavery of our past, nor do I hope any of it is replaced. There is no beauty in what the Confederacy stood for. Hopefully, as a nation we will follow the moral arc towards justice and get there sooner than later.