Trump’s VA Secretary Tells Congress He Won’t Remove Headstones With Swastikas Engraved On Them

Sounds like Trump and his VA secretary are pandering to neo-Nazis again.


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588 points

President Donald Trump is in bed so deep with neo-Nazis that his Veterans Affairs secretary is refusing to remove headstones engraved with swastikas from American military cemeteries.

The headstones, located at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio and the Fort Douglas Post Cemetery in Salt Lake City, are marked with Nazi swastikas and a tribute to Adolf Hitler.

A retired colonel saw them while visiting one of the cemeteries and voiced outrage because his Jewish grandfather is buried nearby.

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During a hearing of the House Military Construction-VA Appropriations subcommittee, Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla.) called for replacing the stones.

“This is deeply troubling to learn that several VA cemeteries contain graves of German POWs that feature swastikas on the headstones as well as inscriptions that honor Adolf Hitler,” she said. “These graves sit right alongside men and women who fought for our country and our ideals, ideals that run counter to everything the swastika and Nazi ideology represent.”

Wilkie, who is a member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, had the gall to defend the swastikas and proposed what he thinks is a compromise.

“I happen to think that making sure that when people visit our cemeteries they are educated and informed of the horror is an incredibly important thing to do,” Wilkie testified. “Erasing these headstones removes them from memory. And as we continue to study the Holocaust, the last thing any Holocaust scholar wants to do is erase that memory.”

Perhaps not coincidentally, this argument is similar to the one that Republicans often employ when objecting to the removal of racist Confederate monuments. Only this time, even Republicans are rejecting it.

“I think you should replace these stones with just a regular stone that still says they were German POWS, but that’s it, and take all the Nazi symbolism off,” Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) said at the hearing. “If someone wants to preserve the tombstones for historical purposes … they can preserve them in some other way, but I don’t think they should be displayed daily to the American public.”

Indeed, Wasserman-Schultz even fired back by pointing out that Germany prohibits the public display of the swastika.

“The Nazi swastika is prohibited in Germany from being displayed, because it is not seen as a reminder to prevent the hatred that it spawned,” she said. “It is seen as something to be snuffed out.”

In any normal administration, this would be a clear checkmate and the headstones would be removed. But the Trump administration panders to neo-Nazis and Trump himself thinks they are “very fine people,” so Wilkie is refusing to remove to offensive symbols that stand above the graves of many men and women who fought for our nation against Nazism.

Air Force veteran Mikey Weinstein, who is Jewish, called out Wilkie for telling Congress that he won’t remove the swastikas from the stones.

“The Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) condemns in the harshest terms possible the disgusting, disingenuous and dishonest testimony of VA Secretary Robert Wilkie before members of the United States Congress yesterday regarding the sordid matter of Nazi-adorned headstones at the gravesites of the three German POWs from World War II who are buried at two VA National Cemeteries,” Weinstein wrote in an email.

Since Germany has no problem with banning the display of swastikas, the United States should have no problem doing the same thing. In fact, it should have been done decades ago. But Trump is not only too spineless to do it, he wants to keep his core voters happy ahead of the November election. If he had any respect at all for our military and Jewish people, he would have these headstones removed. Refusing to do so speaks volumes.

Featured image via screen capture

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