What’s up with The New York Times
and the swastika zeitgeist?
About seven months ago, Logan Jaffe wrote “Confronting Racist Objects” about some readers who were distressed over racist objects – from swastikas and “zydki” figurines to images of slavery – in their homes.
Then about three months ago, the Sunday magazine published a query from a reader addressed to the newspaper’s Ethicist on how he should handle his father’s Nazi booty. His father had a belt buckle from his years as a WWII American soldier; and the son, now in his 60’s, wondered how to dispose of it. The Ethicist replied in about 570 words that the reader could bury the Nazi artifact, but that even if he donated it to a museum, who could not stop a museum patron from viewing the keepsake with the wrong intentions (for example, celebrating the murderous racist regime).
And this past Sunday, in the Sunday Review, The Times published an Opinion essay by Jessica M. Goldstein, the culture editor of ThinkProgress. ThinkProgress is a progressive issues site that thoughtfully tells readers how long it will take the average progressive to read each of its posted essays (I am always slower). Goldstein, a 2011 Penn grad, ponders what to do with her grandfather’s Nazi flag that is tucked away in her family’s attic. A souvenir of her grandfather’s fight against Nazi Germany and the Axis powers, the schmutzy flag, taken in spring 1945 from Berghof, Hitler’s alpine retreat in Bavaria, was signed by her grandfather and some of his unit’s members of the Mayfair460 – 460th Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion**. The museums she contacts won’t take it (they have enough flags). In the end, a museum in New Orleans accepts it for their collection, since it has soldiers’ signatures. The flag no longer haunts Goldstein, and she hopes it will one day, as part of the museum’s collection, help the future understand why hate has to be – and can be – defeated.
She is more hopeful than I.
I would have kept her grandfather’s keepsake and used it to teach others on a personal, local, and micro level. I sense that a museum will perhaps take her submission out of storage only once every forty or fifty years.
Sometimes a little haunting is healthy
** I am surprised that Goldstein received rejections from several museums. A flag from the capture of Berchtesgaden would be famous, its capture was a notable prize, specifically due to General Eisenhower and the fight over which American or French regiment would be ordered to fight for and seize it. Also, I take her at her word. But I thought the 460th was part of the 1st Army, and that it was the 7th Regiment of the 3rd Army that took Berghof. But I will defer to others who are more in the know on military history.
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Speaking of haunting and in the know…. all this news about UK publicist and former journalist Rob Goldstone and the meeting he arranged with the three leaders of the DJ Trump presidential campaign last Summer in Trump Tower.
What isn’t being said is that this guy must be an amazing PR maven.
He got his clients a meeting with the three heads of a presidential campaign in Trump Tower before the GOP convention, and he got another client a gig with the Miss Universe pageant, a dinner with Trump in Vegas, and other treats. Plus he wrote that he was the only former journalist in the late Michael Jackson’s entourage in Australia.
Pretty skilled and amazing if you ask me.
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