January 11, 2021 (zocalopublicsquare.com)
*Illustration by Mary Kirkpatrick
What’s Left to Salvage in a Monument That Refuses to Accept the Sins of the Past?
BY KEITH LOWE
The Yasukuni Shrine is an island of calm in an otherwise bustling city. Mature pines and cypress trees surround it, screening it from Tokyo’s relentless traffic noise. Shady walkways, sacred ponds and dozens of cherry trees make it a public haven for the many Japanese people who come here to honor their ancestors.
But if you look more closely, you’ll find clues to the regional rage and global controversies that plague this place. The shrine is dedicated to all those Japanese soldiers who sacrificed their lives on the battlefield since the Meiji Restoration in 1868, most of them during World War II. On the face of it, there is nothing offensive about this: Every nation …
Transforming the Facility Into a Museum and Democracy Center Would Allow California to Remember Its Carceral Cruelty—And Create a Different Future
BY JOE MATHEWS
One of California’s most notorious jails could close in 2021. But if the state truly wants to leave its carceral history in the past and create a more open and democratic future, its building must be preserved—and transformed …
Returning Jews and Local Communities Worked Together to Lead Germany Toward Historical Reckoning
BY HELMUT WALSER SMITH
How Sweet Briar Is Finally Remembering the Enslaved People Who Built—And Were Buried Beneath—Its Campus
BY LYNN RAINVILLE
Why We Need Literature to Document Atrocities—at Home and Abroad
BY DAISY HERNÁNDEZ
For a long time, I cringed whenever I heard someone talk about a novel or a poem bearing witness. The word “witness” bothered me. It felt hollow and privileged. It felt like something an entitled American writer would say, a writer who could author a book and walk away. I was not that person, or at least I didn’t want to be …