You know there is a very specific reason why you will never see any monuments to Adolf Hitler in Germany.
No monuments to Hitler. No monuments to Heinrich Himmler, Rudolf Hess, Erwin Rommel or any leader or prominent member of the Third Reich. That said, earlier this week a drunken American tourist was beaten and is currently being investigated for raising his arm in a Nazi salute in Dresden, Germany. The week before, two Chinese tourist were arrested for doing similar, while taking photographs of each other in Berlin. Their crime: “Using Symbols of Illegal Organization.” To honor or memorialize that part of Germany history is not only illegal, but will undoubtedly get you fucked up by your typical German. And despite this absence of reverence, every child learns in vivid and personal detail of the Third Reich. They learn of it’s horrors, the racism, the anti-semitism and intolerance so that it is never repeated.
Over here in the United States of America, we have our own sorted history that our children learn about in school. Even though our Declaration of Independence was written with the words “All men are created equal,” we found that truth not to as “self-evident” as it was written. From our Declaration to the formation of our government and beyond, not only were Black Americans unequal in the eyes of the law, they weren’t even American. They were property. Slaves. And despite the efforts or inefforts of our Founding Fathers to redress the issue, slavery was an immoral American institution for America’s first 90 years. And for those first four and a half score, debate raged on the legality and morality of slavery. That debate was quietest in the Southern States of America. So when America elected a Northern politician, as President of the United States, with the promise to end slavery, the southern states decided succession was their only option. In forming the Confederate States of America, the south took up arms against the United States, they fought to defend slavery, a practice that was endemic to the core of what the Confederacy was about. In no uncertain terms, the Confederacy brutalized and subjugated a race of human beings, promoting white supremacy and fought and killed Americans by the thousands, which is exactly what the Hitler and Nazi Germany did 80 years later. And last week, tragically enough they both have found a partner and defender in the President of the United States of America.
On August 12th, a driver attending a Alt-Right protest against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, took his car and viciously ran through a crowd of people, killing one and severely injuring nearly two dozen more. Meanwhile the President of the United States issued a statement lamenting violence on both side. He would later back up that statement insisting that those protesting the removal of the statue were “very fine people” and that removing a statue honoring a Confederate general would lead to a desire to remove commemorations to the likes of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson because they too were slave owners. This was his cause to defend the actions of those who went to Charolottesville with the specific intent to spread hate, intolerance and fear.
In Germany, there is no doubt about the evils of the Nazi regime. However, inexplicably, despite how much we know of the brutality of slavery, we continue to honor and memorialize those who fought to defend it. Actually, it’s even worse. Because, as horrible as Nazi Germany was, it was the actual government of Germany. The Confederacy betrayed and took up arms against the United States. They wanted to leave. They fought to killed Americans for the right to leave. Not to mention, there’s also that part about them fighting to defend their right to enslave human beings too. Yet we continue honor the likes of Jefferson Davis and Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, their names emblazoned on our schools and roadways. Their visages etched into stone and metal of monuments.
Now, here in 2017, these memorials are protected by those who the President of the United States described as “very fine people.” These “very fine people” wave Confederate flags. They brandish Nazi paraphernalia and recited hateful demagoguery. Anyone who saw that wretched display of humanity and did not IMMEDIATELY resist or shun it are NOT “very fine people” at all. But this is what the President saw, and his stated desire to protect not only the legacy of the Confederacy, but the a desire to protect the legacy of America’s Founding Slave Owners such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. And while fierce and vibrant debate will continue of the duality of those individuals(and should), there’s no doubt they fought FOR the United States of America, not against. George Washington fought to make America, while Robert E. Lee abandoned and fought to kill Americans. That, by definition, is treason. There is NO. WAY. that should be honored. The fact that they did such to preserve the enslavement and inhumane brutalization of an race doubles their shame. There is no doubt that what the President did, by any credible metric, was reprehensible, embarrassing and atrociously pathetic for anyone, let alone the leader of a nation with the history we have. Try to imagine if a German Chancellor would dare say some Nazi’s were “very fine people.” Do you really think the entire would would react kindly? Do you think the world would not be appalled if Angela Merkel stated a defense of a statue memorializing Adolf Hitler? That’s exactly what happened in America.
What Germans do honor and remember is the victims of the Third Reich. Memorials have been built or are on display across Germany to be a vivid reminder of what the Third Reich did. In January of every year, Germany has a federal holiday, Holocaust Memorial Day to further commemorate the victims of Nazism. Less than two weeks before, over here in the Commonwealth of Virginia, we continue to commemorate Lee-Jackson Day, a day where state offices are closed in remembrance of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson, Confederates that betrayed their country. Virginia does not have a Booker T. Washington Day or a Nat Turner Day. Germans have forcefully purged any and all references to the Third Reich. However, they will never forget what they did because they CHOOSE to remember their victims. Yet, what has been rejected in Germany is acceptable in America. And it isn’t enough to simply memorialize the Confederacy, according to the events unfolding in this day and age, Americans are STILL fighting for the Confederacy.