If you’re of Jewish descent and live in Germany, you are far better off than a black man in the United States. Both Germany and America’s past hold their share of atrocities. It’s impossible to compare a decade of Antisemitism and the holocaust to hundreds of years of slavery. That said, there is a world of difference to how the two nations responded in their aftermaths.
I am of Jewish ancestry on my mom’s side and German on my dad’s. If I decide to visit the fatherland again and spend a week in Berlin, my mom’s side would not be constantly insulted by my dad’s side. Outside of museums, there is nothing left to insult the Jew in me.
There are no statues of Hitler or Goebbels. Himmler isn’t on the country’s stamps, Eichmann and Göring are not displayed on Germany’s money. You will also not find German homes proudly flying the Nazi Flag as part of their heritage. It is illegal to do so except for educational purposes.
What you can see in Germany instead, are museums explaining in detail the tragedies of World War II and the horrors of the Holocaust and Nazi regime. Germany is not in denial, but it is making a conscious effort not to offend any of its citizens.
If you are a black man from anywhere in the world and visit the United States. America’s past will catch up and bite you in the ass the moment you step into the airport and exchange your money.
Try going anywhere in the U.S. without being reminded of the racism that persists there. The country was founded by slave owners, their faces are displayed everywhere, even on the currency. Can the average black person see these faces and be influenced in a positive way? I doubt it.
Names Mean Something
You also have the southern Confederate states or confidiots I call them. Proud to fly a racist flag, brought back after a hundred years in order to protest civil rights. They have statues, streets, schools, and army bases named after confidiot generals and leaders. After a hundred and fifty years it still hasn’t dawned on them that they lost.
Send your kids to Robert E. Lee High School where they can become as successful as a slave owner who lost a war! How appealing… Imagine being a black man in the south and being subjected to this every single day. Imagine them having no choice but to go to this school.
The situation has been dire since slavery began, but America has never had a drastic solution to solve it. If we are to tackle systemic racism, the system must change. The language must change, the heroes need to change. Everything must go. Disappeared.
Bring down the statues, all of them. From Lee to Columbus. George Washington included. You don’t need to see pigeons defecate on their head in a park, you need to learn about them in school and museums. Change the street names, the schools, the army bases, the money. Everything!
While we’re at it, how about removing native American tribe names from our weapons of mass destruction. Imagine the gall of naming your military vehicles after the people you committed genocide against.
The Heroes We Deserve
There is no shortage of actual heroes in our lives, especially on the local level. It’s tiring to see these national statesmen with questionable morals take up all the prime real estate in our towns.
Yesterday I was passed a petition to change one of Montreal’s main metro stations from “Lionel-Groulx Metro,” to “Oscar Peterson Metro.” Lionel-Groulx was a French scholar and catholic priest with a questionable anti-Semitic past. Peterson was an eight-time Grammy Award winning, world-famous Jazz pianist. The change seems only logical to me. Rename one after Leonard Cohen as well.
In any rational society, these changes would come naturally. Germany didn’t have to ponder for decades how to go about healing their country. It took Russia all but a couple years to sweep communism under the rug.
Why is the United States different? Why are Americans so resistant to change? It’s not like we’re asking them to change over to the metric system, that’s impossible. America’s past is long, racist, and violent and it has stayed that way because no one shy of Lincoln has tried to change it in a meaningful way.
Aunt Jemima and Uncle Ben? Nice step I guess, but a drop of water in the ocean. It’s sad that heartless corporations and everyday people are the one’s taking the leadership role. A few executive orders would be all it takes, and the man who signed them would become legendary. Maybe we can give him his own statue… I’m not holding my breath either.