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A letter from MJ Rosenberg in the 2/13 Washington City Paper asked why the U.S. does not sponsor a national slavery museum, given its sponsorship of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. After all, the nightmare of slavery in the United States persisted for several hundred years, a tragedy by any measure, and happened right here, not overseas.
Most simply, there is not such a museum because no one has established one. If Rosenberg wants to start such a place, I would encourage him or her to do so. If done properly, that is certainly a worthy way to effect social justice.
Slavery in this country will never be forgotten. We all know it existed, that it was terrible, that it will never happen again, that we all will be dealing with its effects for decades, if not centuries, to come. The Holocaust is not so safe from being forgotten. Fraudulent literature “proving” the Holocaust never happened is accessible in books, pamphlets, magazines, and the Internet. It can be heard on radio and seen on tabloid television. This is only 50 years later, when survivors and their witnesses are still alive to be told their own nightmare was merely imagined. Despotic rulers still rise to power in this country and others based on fear and hatred. There is still a swastika on the newspaper box at McPherson Square that I see every day on my way to work. Some people have forgotten the lessons we should have learned from the Holocaust.
I don’t know how Rosenberg left the Holocaust museum “feeling quite good” about anything at all. The Holocaust was a horror beyond description, any way you examine it, and does not need to be compared with anything else.