By Cap'n O
JULY 28, 1997: Imagine: You're walking around a broad plaza with thousands of others while listening to music blasting from two stages, stuffing your face with food and booze, laughing at those less fortunate than you, checking out guys' crotches, trying to figure out which babe has nothing between her clinging dress and the jiggling flesh of her smooth, rounded butt, ridiculing other peoples' wardrobes, avoiding neighbors and people from work and generally having an all-American time.
Now imagine this: As you're racing to the beer truck and fantasizing about what you'd do with that meaty crotch or tantalizing bottom, you encounter a 15-foot-high metal sculpture that looks like a chimney with people being burned up in it and that memorializes the brutalizing, incineration and murder of 6 million Jews during World War II.
Even if you're a typical American who knows almost nothing about history, your mind would conjure up images of ghostly, skeleton-like figures peering out from behind barbed wire and your fantasy would be ruined, at least for a few seconds anyway.
That's one reason why a group of Holocaust survivors called Cafe Europa are right in opposing the placement of a Holocaust memorial on Civic Plaza, the once and future site of Summerfest. A prominent reminder of one of history's darkest periods would be out of place in a plaza that's being renovated as the city's outdoor entertainment center. When you're chowing down and having a good time, you don't need to be reminded of ovens, Zyklon B and body ash.
Europa members say that building a monument to Jews would slight other groups who were killed by the Nazis.
Holocaust survivor Julianna Lerner says the memorial would lead to resentment of Jews and could be a lightning rod for future attacks on Jews. She's right. We're a sick species. And Jews, who've been hated, hounded and killed for a few thousand years, don't need to invite resentment. When passing through an area where you're hated, you duck your head. You don't shout, "Hey, I'm here. Come shoot me." Unfortunately for Jews, they must keep their heads down in vast stretches of this planet.
There are other reasons to keep the statue off of Civic Plaza. In this memorial-crazed nation, every group that has suffered a real or perceived slight will want a monument on the plaza.
Indians who murdered each other before being murdered by Spaniards and other Europeans will demand one. Spaniards, who practiced genocide against the Indians and stole their land, will want a memorial to the oppression they say they've suffered.
There'd have to be a tall shrine for millions of Ukrainians murdered by Joseph Stalin's regime. Armenians killed in their centuries-long feud with Turks would have to be honored with a chunk of granite or slab of steel. The Turks would need one, too. So would millions of Cambodians murdered by Pol Pot's thugs.
A bronze of a potato and whiskey bottle would honor the Irish for being stomped on by the Brits. Korean women and other Asians brutalized by the Japs during World War II deserve a memorial. So do the early Christians who were persecuted by the Romans and eaten by lions.
Memorials would have to be thrown up for every person killed by drunken drivers, gang members, serial killers, Albuquerque police, cigarettes, inattentive doctors, fatty foods and lightning. The plaza would be a forest of crypts, statues, plaques and shrines and would look like a graveyard instead of an entertainment center.
So hold off on the memorials on Civic Plaza. We'll get to the cemetery soon enough. No need for constant reminders. And besides, I'd rather gape at a clinging dress riding up the cleavage of a jiggling butt on a hot day. Wouldn't you?
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