Damnacio Memoriae

recently I took a tour with other military veterans through the Penn Museum, just across from Franklin Field on South Street. (https://www.penn.museum/) We toured through exhibits of the various ancient civilizations-Egyptian,  Babylonia, and Sumerian- ending up a the Ancient Rome exhibit, where the guide introduced us to the Roman custom of damnacio memoriae, “damnation of memory-”  the cursing of the name of someone who brought same, terror, or disgrace to the nation, such as the maniacal emperors Nero and Caligula; or others, like Lucius Aelius Sejanus, who, as commander of the Praetorian Guard, tried to usurp the throne from the Emperor Tiberias in 31 CE. (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Lucius-Aelius-Sejanus)  In that custom, all of the statues of that person would be torn down, and their names would be chipped off of public monuments, Thereby erasing his name from public memory, as if they never existed. It was a sort of final insult to someone who brought pain and suffering to the community.

That is what I see happening to the buildings bearing donald whatshisface’s name-the various hotels, casinos, and apartment complexes he didn’t build but he leased them their name. Supposedly, his name was a guarantee of quality and luxury. Now, it’s the name of a traitor who tried to destroy our democracy, with a minority of violent maniacs, in the January 6 rampage that tried to overturn the results of a free and fair election; and his name has been torn down from many of the buildings that had it (https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisettevoytko/2019/10/23/heres-every-trump-property-thats-dropped-his-name/?sh=5c8926b03571) ; and I enjoyed seeing the implosion of the trump Plaza in Atlantic City.(https://www.cnn.com/videos/business/2021/11/25/smash-and-grab-robberies-retail-store-newday-vpx.cnn/video/playlists/stories-worth-watching/) 

We must never forget the real story of the events of January 6, no matter how the republicans try to revise it; but the parallels to what’s happening to the trump brand, and the Roman practice of damnacio memoriae, are just TOO close to ignore.

(Fun fact: the Penn Museum is free to veterans who show their veteran’s card, it’s their “thank you” for our service.)

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Remember January 6

The riot that pro-trump terrorists-yes, call them that-was one of the most horrible events in this nation’s history; it showed how a hate-filled, ignorant, violent minority, guided by a self-serving charlatan, rampaging in the halls of Congress trying to overturn, by force, the results of a free-and fair election, thus showing how fragile is that which passes for “democracy” in this country.

It also shows how the Republicans, trying to attain the votes of such people-it’s their real constituency anymore-are glassing over the riot, saying that it was more like a nice group of tourists having fun, or trying to distract from the riot-“but BLM!” in that riot, they tried to find and kill members of Congress and vandalized federal property ,and police officers were injured-one of them gouged out the eyes of a DC cop, others were beaten, and one of them was killed. And this is the faction screaming “back the blue” and “blue lives matter”-as alone as the cops attack non-white people protesting for their rights.

Forget about it? No way! We have commemorations for the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the 9/11 attacks, and rightly so-human lives were lost that should not have been, just like in January 6. I propose there be annual commemorations of January 6,  where we rededicate ourselves to preserving our democracy and expanding on it, to make sure more people have access to the ballot box. we can do this with a voter registration drive; discussions in our local libraries, houses of worship, unions, and neighborhoods, etc., about the issues affecting our communities; discussions about the dangers of racism, anti-Semitism, and violent extremism in our communities and over the internet; food and clothing drives and other volunteer activities; and voting when ANY election day comes, and NEVER allowing ANYONE to prevent us, either by voter-restricting laws, gerrymandering of legislative districts, or brute physical force.

Never allow the terrible events of January 6 be forgotten, and may our enemies remember they WILL NOT intimidate us.

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