They Didn’t Want to Forget Either
By Josh Marshall
One key to understanding the double-determination to exterminate and remember is to wrap one’s mind around the idea that the Nazis planned, once they got done with the Jews, to make a big Jewish museum in Prague. They were collecting artifacts and warehousing them for this grand exposition: torah scrolls and Sabbath candelabras and other ritual and/or folkloric objects. I guess they had something in mind like the American Indian collections and exhibits at the Smithsonian and the Natural History museum.
Remember, the US Army has a tradition of naming all its aircraft after Native American tribes. We take these things for granted. They’re natural somehow in the texture of American national memory. From an historical perspective, though, there is something a little odd and paradoxical about this. It is frightening though I must confess interesting to consider how a victorious Nazi regime might have remembered an annihilated Jewry.
In the American imagination, Indians are like the lion or bear trophy over the mantelpiece. Celebrating their strength and courage really means celebrating ours. As a museum piece, trophy, or mascot, Indians remind us how "wonderful" we were to conquer the "savages" and then allow them to join our "civilization."
The animal analogy is good one for how we view and treat Indians. We hate wild wolves but love domesticated dogs. Indeed, we admire many dangerous animals as long as they're safely locked in zoos (reservations). But if they show up without chains around their necks, we scream bloody murder, call Animal Control, or simply shoot them.
Don't let anyone fool you about how mascots and other stereotypical images are "harmless." America has a cultural and political agenda for remembering Indians as "noble savages." It's all about promoting the myth of Euro-Christian superiority so we can justify our crimes against humanity.
For more on the subject, see:
Why Warren wants to be Native
Indian place names = mascots
Mythical Indian = "national mascot"