Germany’s integrity vs. America’s denial
As reported in the Chicago Tribune on Dec. 8 (“In 1st Auschwitz visit, Merkel voices Germany’s ‘deep shame’ ”), speaking for Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel just donated $66.6 million to the long-term upkeep of the World War II Nazi work camp of Auschwitz-Birkenau. The camp is known for the infamous sign at its entrance, “Arbeit Macht Frei” (“Work will set you free”).
Said Merkel, now 74 years after the end of WWII: The atrocities “are and will remain part of German history and this history must be told over and over again.” In short, it is a moral debt Germany owns and embraces forever. This, in case anyone missed it, is in addition to the millions of dollars Germany has paid in reparations to Israel to atone for Nazi harm done specifically to Europe’s Jewish communities in general. Not to mention strict German postwar laws against reviving Nazism.
is what moral integrity looks like.
Compare that to the posture taken so far by America’s politicians who have denied ownership of this nation’s moral debt for establishing and maintaining the institution of chattel slavery from 1619 to 1865, 246 years, the profits from which, through agriculture, laid the economic foundation of this nation’s wealth, poising it to make the most of the Industrial Revolution, which, along with our natural resources, has enabled the U.S. to become the world’s leading power. Hardly any aspect of our economic system, including banks and the insurance industry, failed to benefit directly or indirectly from the profits of slavery.
All this on the backs, toil, pain and tears of kidnapped people, whose descendants are repeatedly told that, despite the accumulated collective wealth they were instrumental in creating, that there is no basis for reparations of any kind for this theft of person and labor. In our schools, American history textbooks likewise deliberately fudge, omit and gloss over the naked brutality of slavery, miseducating our youths, generation after generation.
This is what collective, institutionalized denial looks like. — Ted Z. Manuel, Chicago