Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Americans can't afford Christopher Columbus

This may be a day late and a penny short, but the best thing I can say about Christopher Columbus is that he was Italian. I like Italians.

One of my grandmother's closest friends is a Hungarian woman who escaped Nazi capture when an officer's dog yielded to her affections. To this day, she loves animals but is deeply skeptical of humanity. Also, nobody can say a bad word to her about the United States.

The story goes that Hitler had a strong affinity for the US government's policy toward native Americans, whom he felt occupied a space analogous to the "Jewish question" in Europe. These communities could not be reconciled with the demands that the "national progress" spelled out; as such, they were deemed obstacles to be removed, in either case. But while the United States was constrained only by distant oceans as its borders, Germany was beset with hostile neighbors on all sides, and suffered for want of "Lebensraum" -- or, "living space." As such, the Jews could not be left to rot in a corner, as the native Americans were so ably undone by the industrious Americans, but required a "creative" solution unique to the particulars of Europe at that time.

The good news is that my grandmother's friend, the survivor, will talk about it all -- quite openly -- to anyone who will listen. The bad news is that she doesn't find many takers.

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