Thursday, August 11, 2011

It's time for a round of "Good Idea, Bad Idea"

Disclaimer: I got that title from a cartoon show called Animaniacs.  Anyway . . .

Good Idea: Tearing down the Berlin Wall as a symbolic end of 50 years of Communist rule on East Germany.

Bad Idea: Rebuilding part of the Berlin Wall as a tourist attraction.

It was a pretty big deal when the wall fell.  It wasn't really a moment of triumph of West over East, or Capitalism over Communism, but more a triumph of liberty and human decency over the inhumanity of totalitarian government.  Tearing down the wall was symbolic of an end to the old world as we knew it; that world that was mutilated by Stalin and Hitler.

So why in the hell would we want to build that back up again?  This works bad on a couple of levels.  First, it's stupid because it's like we're constantly trying to remind people of the pain and opression that they endured under Soviet rule.  We should never forget history, and we should never try to pretend that something didn't happen just to spare our feelings, but there are ways to remember it that don't involve resurrecting the physical memories of such a painful past.

Seeing the wall torn down and in shambles, for me, would mean so much more than seeing even a portion of it rebuilt.  Destroyed and crumbled is how it should be seen, because the triumph it represents is what's most meaningful.

This is a short post because I'm not entirely sure how fully to articulate all of this except to say that sometimes, destruction can be a monument in itself.


Harrison said...

I think you are wrong on many levels. Firstly, the fall WAS about the "triumph of West over East, or Capitalism over Communism." Free markets = free people. Plus the USSR went bankrupt so they had to fall. And a country that isn't capitalistic can't grow enough food and its people starve.

Secondly, in the future there are people who won't believe there was ever a wall there. If somebody gets their panties in a knot and sheds a tear because part of the wall is back, tough.

Jersey McJones said...

Today, at Checkpoint Charlie, there's a large two-sided sign. On one side, is the face of a US Soldier, on the other, a Russian one. It's a poignant reminder of what the Cold War was really about - not Capitalism v Communism, not free markets v central control: It was about power.