Monday, September 14, 2015

State Amnesia -- A New Poem by Stan Brunn

            State Amnesia


Dangerous disciplines are history and geography     
            But so are anthropology, political science and sociology
Because they deal with places, politics and memory
Unwritten narrative and silent cartography.
“State amnesia” is an official censorship policy and idea
Evident in China, Russia, Germany or former Yugoslavia
And India, Turkey, South Africa, Israel, Japan and Indonesia
And the U.S., Nigeria, Congo and countries in South America.
State amnesia may erase a public massacre and genocide
Enslavement, patricide and minority members’ infanticide
Clandestine resettlement, deportations and human rights deprive
Censoring human struggles and stereotyping secretly disguise.
Survivors of silent histories know what happened when and where
            As omitting the teaching of silences does not good citizens prepare
            Nor do official pronouncements issuing an apology and declare
            That selective patriotic amnesia will healing insure.
State amnesia is associated with imperialism
And also colonialism and neocolonialism
Zealotry and superpatriotism
Ruthless tyrannies and historical democracies.
Examples include Americans and Native Americans
Holocaust survivors, Palestinians, and exiled Tibetans
Turks and Armenians; First Nations and Canadians
 Jews and Ukrainians involuntary moved by Russians
Aborigines in Australia and apartheid South Africans.
Most countries like their history to be sanitized and official
Pleasant and patriotic, not violent and brutal
Or discriminatory, genocidal and cruel
Where killing was deemed legitimate and justifiable.
But silent histories are often impossible to eradicate
And memory cartographies hard to eliminate
And horrific events hard to repudiate
Or even wrestling ways to rewrite negotiate.
Official though a state history appear to be
It is far from complete and never free
Silent memorials and museums abound we agree
That take time to be found, to construct and to see.
Yet history and geography we must constantly rewrite
With courage, integrity and new insight
And construct new maps we prepare with delight
And correct the wrongs and make them right.

                                                   Stan Brunn, 12 September 2015

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