I haven’t checked in on The Ethicist column in the New York Time Magazine in a while: the current resident, Kwame Anthony Appiah, is the real McCoy, unlike all of his predecessors, and his analysis of various queries from readers is usually valid and properly reasoned. This week’s featured issue is a strange one, however.
A Peter Hulit of Los Angeles wrote to ask what was the “ethical way” to deal with a belt buckle from a Nazi uniform that was stored in his late father’s box of World War II memorabilia, collected during his service overseas. Hulit explained,
“I have kept it stashed in my desk. I’m now in my 60s and really don’t want it in my house..I have checked resale sites, and it does have some monetary value, but I do not want it to fall into hands that may use it symbolically for what my father fought against.”
I rate this question as more evidence of Nazi hysteria, one of the side-effect of the 2016 post election Ethics Train Wreck that includes the effort by the Left to slander opposition to Democrats, Clinton and Obama as nascent fascism. It is also a continuation of the historical air-brushing that Orwellian progressives seem to think will magically eliminate all evils from modern society.
World War II artifacts are history and are tools of acquiring knowledge. Knowledge is what those seeing German Nazi motivations in President Trump and his supporters sorely lack. There is no such thing as dangerous history. What is dangerous is to forget history, or to try to pretend that what happened did not.
Nor are objects cursed, or evil. People are evil, and history leaves evidence of evil deeds. “I don’t want it in my house” smacks of superstition. It’s a belt buckle.
Hulit’s question seems to suck The Ethicist down some unethical holes that he should avoid, and usually does. For example, he writes, Continue reading