Sins of Omission

In Remembrance of My Brothers

Three New York firefighters raise Old Glory over the rubble of the World Trade Center.  The dramatic moment is captured from afar by a photographer.  Within a day or two, the photo is featured in newspapers across the United States.  It becomes as recognizable as the Marine flag-raising on Mt. Suribachi.  T-shirts soon appear with the two images juxtaposed.  A New York real-estate developer commissions an artist to replicate the event in a monument to be erected on the grounds of the New York fire-department headquarters.  All are ecstatic.

Then we are told that the actual event will not replicated, that there is a problem with the flag-raising: The three firefighters are white.  Thus, for the statue, one of the whites will be transformed into a black and another into a Latino.  The news of the change spreads like wildfire and becomes a topic for radio talk shows.  A fireman initiates a protest and petition drive that mobilizes thousands in New York and beyond.  For the time being, the erection of the monument is suspended.

This episode reveals all too much about life in America at the beginning of the 21st century: False symbols are replacing reality, and history be damned, as long as we are talking about whites and Western civilization.  Usually, whites roll over and play dead for fear of being called “racists.”  This case was different, though, and...

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