Point for discussion:
Many U.S. cities have recently been removing Confederate-related statues or monuments (20+ cities) or observances (nearly 50 cities have replaced or modified Columbus Day). Internationally, a bill has just been passed in Poland making it illegal to make statements that are deemed to imply that Poland willingly took place in crimes committed during the Holocaust.
Our Points of View:
From my perspective, this feels like an attempt to run away from significant events that have impacted the way the world has evolved. It is not a crime to be ashamed of events that occurred in the past. These are learning events. Do we feel badly about them? Yes. Should we try to forget about them? Absolutely not. If we failed to teach our children about these horrible periods in human history, we would be doing them a great disservice. It is important to use these as learning experiences. It is unfortunate that the Polish government felt it necessary to even pass a law like this. Wartime is hell, and many are forced to do things that they would never consider in peace time just to survive. We all know who was ultimately responsible for what occurred. It seems that rather than passing laws or attempting to hide or run away from these periods, we should use them to help later generations understand them. If we don’t, we will be doomed to repeat them.
I agree with Lynn that it is important that we learn from these historical events.
When these statues were put in place, or days were designated for observance of an individual’s role in history, these items were implemented at that time to remember events or people. When people saw them, it may have inspired learning about it and learning from it. It’s kind of like a time capsule of what was – the good and the bad.
As I listen to people debating this issue, I wonder if changing or removing these items or observances actually changes or re-writes history. Isn’t it possible to retain these items, even if, in some cases, they become a monument of what’s been wrong in the past and a reminder of what we must move away from? Can’t we do both? Must we censor or regulate history?
I believe that people are perceptive, and whether observing the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, for example, or remembering the Holocaust, or acknowledging the Civil War – most people know the difference between good and bad, and can filter their feelings, without having to pick and choose which parts of history to acknowledge – or which to expose new generations to.
Our question for you:
Isn’t there a way to retain and explain the history without removing it?