Monday, March 18, 2013

When The Germans Are More Thoughtful Than You, You Got Yourself A Problem

To paraphrase Community: "All this time, we thought the Germans were the Germans, but it turns out we're the Germans."

So background: both America and the Axis of WWII have committed genocides. America has actually committed two, but let's just focus on the one we're more "proud" of. And I use the term pride there intentionally, because I'm talking about slavery and the continued "pride" of certain segments of society in the Confederacy.

These two cases give us a very interesting contrast on how to respond to your country doing something really, really fucked up. The former Axis nations, for instance, have pretty much banned all things associated with the Nazi/Mussolini regimes, outside of historical education. For instance, there was a midfielder in Greece recently given a lifetime ban from the Greek futbol association for throwing up a Heil Hitler salute after scoring a goal.

This is a debatable punishment in its extent (though I for one have no problem with it), but it's at least a clear rejoinder to folks who express Nazi ideology. And that clear rejoinder is this: "Hey asshole, we tried that and it went really, really fucking wrong. Knock that shit off." It seems as if the former fascist genocidal nations have realized that genocide is something to be remorseful about. Seems simple enough.

Now contrast that with how America remembers one of our genocides (we just ignore/erase from history the other one). In plenty of places, school children are taught there was never really a genocide and that the South and North were fighting over how big the Federal government should be. We have plenty of people who still fly the flag of the genocidal regime under the aegis of "pride." Fuck, the state fucking capitol in South Carolina still flies the Confederate flag. What's the message here? Well, it sure looks like it's "Remorse? Fuck you, we ain't remorseful about genocide. in fact, we're fucking proud of it."

Now this is the point where a Confederate genocide defender will say the South was about much more than slavery, and while slavery was maybe regretful, there's still so much to celebrate.

Fuck you, if you're trying to make that argument.

Because let's apply that logic to Germany. Sure, the whole Holocaust thing was bad, but there was so much to celebrate in Nazi Germany. After all, it's not celebrating the Holocaust, it's merely taking pride in the past! That's why we still fly the flag of the Third Reich over the capitol building; it has nothing to do with racism and how dare you imply that!

Sound pretty horrible? Good, you've passed the test of being a human being. If you think it's unfair to compare the two cases, my condolences, for you've failed the test of being a human being.


The Natural Stoner said...

Though the Germans do take a lot of pride in their efficiency, engineering, technology, and orderliness, all of the traits that helped them execute in a decade what it took 'Merica to do in a couple centuries. I think your comparison is fair, but I'd just like to point out that the Germans have a code for talking about the pride they have in their culture and history. *wincing* It's fascinating to go through history and think about when exactly people realized that certain things were bad- like how slavery could have even been up for debate 150 years ago. Or how in Hitler's time, eugenics was a respected idea. Our worldwide consciousness is continually evolving, even speeding up as we communicate about our ideas more and more.

The Natural Stoner said...

Oh, and also, two things I wanted to mention to you. I just learned that the 2014 version of the GED test will not contain any questions about Native Peoples on the social studies section. (How messed up is that??) The new focus will be on US Civics, with a special section on US policy post 9/11. Second thing- the test will be online only, which is hugely problematic, because a large segment of test takers are incarcerated, and guess what? There's no internet in prison. So fucked up. To date, no remedies have been proposed for this.