Have A Little Fun. Life Is Too Short.

The German government regards its years of outright racial wars with inexorable guilt, while the white [United States] South… often celebrates its Confederate and pre-civil rights past with heroic pride and nostalgia. In 2011, one hundred and fifty years after secession and the start of the Civil War, many Southern states celebrated the date with balls and festivities. In distinct contrast, it is unimaginable that any reputable German political or social leaders could honor and commemorate the passage of the Nuremberg Laws and the erection of a German racist state.

by Judith Goldstein

This quote from one of my fellowship readings really stood out to me. As a German-American, the contrast between how Germany and how the United States deal with their pasts has always struck me as bizarre. Both nations have horrifying, violently racist pasts (and still deal with racism today), but in Germany it is an issue of enormous shame, with the evil of the acts widely acknowledged and the government working to address this time and its effects (though some ultra-conservative, white supremacist groups certainly still remain unashamed). In the US, however, we barely speak of the millions killed through the slave trade, slavery itself, lynchings, deprivation of resources during Jim Crow, and so on, not to mention centuries of rape of Black women and other horrors. Another reading mentioned that although there is a Holocaust museum in Washington, DC, there is no “museum dedicated to the history of Black/White relations in the US,” though memorials and museums dedicated to the Holocaust exist in Berlin. Is it wrong to think that a little more shame would be healthy for the US?

(via minglehart)

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