28 September 2005

Sightseeing in DC

Today, I spent most of the day doing some sightseeing around town. I used the Tourmobile service to reach the remote parts of the Mall that I cannot reach by Metro or other means.

My first stop was the US Holocaust Memorial Museum. I could see lots of exhibits, starting with the Nazi rise to power, the Nazi racial theories, and the devastating consequences. I could draw many parallels to the current situation in the United States; Germany around 1930 was a dynamic place, but given the perfect combination of economic hardships, a common enemy (Jews, in this case), and the silent support by the industries and the churches, race-based fascism quickly took over. The current American situation, where gays are seen as the common enemy and the churches are doing their part to help the Republicans currently in power, don't seem much different. The democratic institutions that keep extremism in check are still in place, but they can be shredded at any time. The Germans were obsessed with abortion and homosexuality in the interest of procreating as many perfect Aryans as possible; the Americans are obsessed now with the same in the interest of saving the Christian belief system. I made this comparison clear as I signed the visitor log.

I had a less somber experience as I walked through the FDR memorial at the Tidal Pool. The ideas and quotes of President Franklin D. Roosevelt were inscripted all over the place, including the spreading of prosperity to all Americans, opposition to war unless absolutely necessary, and so forth. Given that Reagan and W have pushed a philosophy that is a complete opposite - with devastating results for both America and the world - the ideas of Roosevelt ring more poignant than ever. The view from there, looking at the cherry blossom trees, the Tidal Pool, the other monuments, and the Potomac, was absolutely beautiful.

I continued on to Korean War, Vietnam War, and World War II memorials - to remember three wars that were more legitimate than the current Iraq quagmire, especially in the case of WWII. In particular, as I walked through the Korean War memorial, in particular next to the list of the seventeen nations that fought together (including the US and South Korea), I thought again about what I had said back at Senator Boxer's office on Monday. The Korean War was an example of how to win international support, and the Iraqi War is an example of how to lose it.

It's a shame that I won't be able to do more sightseeing, as I have a business tomorrow, and will go home the next day. I wish I could stick around for a few days longer to soak in the atmosphere, and to reflect on what the ideals that founded the United States of America really mean to me; those ideals seem more fragile than ever, and I need to keep in touch with them better than ever.

Before I go home, I hope to meet with members of the Democracy Cell Project one more time tomorrow night. Hope it works out.