Still support anti-Trumpers Melania

Get out of my eyes!

The USA is an early modern republic. In its ceremonial and symbols it often follows the tradition of the British Kingdom or the Republic of Venice. The straightforward functionalism that characterizes the Berlin Republic remains alien to the United States, decried as capitalist-materialist and founded twenty years before the fall of old Europe. This is clearly shown in the Oval Office, which, as the head of state's office, also represents a representative room for the republic. He embodies the continuity of office and state. At the same time, each president sets individual grades. They emphasize government understanding, government motto and government style. What the motto and coat of arms of the Popes is, that of the Presidents of the USA is their oval office.

Bust in, bust out ...

The inauguration of a new US president is accompanied by a statement about his predecessor. The bust of Churchill, which George W. Bush had received from the British ally and which was set up as a sign of special solidarity with London, may serve as an example; Barack Obama removed it, Donald Trump put it back on. Joe Biden has removed it again and replaced it with a bust of the union leader Cesar Chavez. Whether Biden emphasizes the working class milieu of the Democratic Party, honors the civil rights movement, represents the Hispanic minority or strives to amalgamate Catholic social teaching with left-wing politics is a matter of interpretation. The exchange, however, is lined up in a whole series of Trumpian objects that Biden has removed from the office.

The famous "red button" that the ex-president used to order a Diet Coke made it into the media. The ideological changes are less well known. Similar to Churchill, US President Andrew Jackson was carried out of the room and Benjamin Franklin took his place. President Lincoln, who used to hang on Trump's right, was transferred to the fireplace. The bust of the "Rough Rider" Theodore Roosevelt had to give way to civil rights activist Robert Kennedy, a large painting of the "New Deal" President Franklin D. Roosevelt occupies the fireplace. The military flags have been mothballed. Trump's red presidential chair has disappeared. Instead, the blue carpet from the Clinton and Obama era has returned to the Oval Office.

"Not the redemption in the sense of forgetting,
but rather the 'drawing attention' to the 'wanting to forget'
was the core of political practice "

The rule of the iconoclasts: Behind the purging mania there is a wrong understanding of past honors.

In short: apart from the "Resolute Desk" the desk that the US presidents have used most frequently since Kennedy and the bust of Martin Luther King, there is hardly any memory of the old presidential office left. That Biden kept the golden curtains is probably only due to the fact that they come from Bill Clinton's tenure.

At first glance, such changes may seem subtle; recognizing the Oval Office as the throne room of American democracy, however, they are a political program that reveals only one facet of coming to terms with the Trump years. In the heart of its republic, the Maggior Consiglio, Venice portrayed all of the Doges. On the other hand, a painted black drape is spread over the Doge Marino Falier. Falier was accused of attempting a coup and was executed for it and his memory was publicly ostracized. The damnatio memoriae as "damnation of memory" was already a common form in ancient Egypt.

The goal: humiliation

Still-President Trump is increasingly alone, even long-term companions distance themselves. A second impeachment procedure is unlikely to have any chance of success. The conservative US theologian George Weigel makes it clear: The Republicans must distance themselves from Trump.

The western tradition is to be sought in Roman history: not the eradication in the sense of forgetting, but rather the "drawing attention" to the "wanting to forget" was the core of the political practice of the "abolitio nominis". People were not erased from history as in George Orwell's 1984 novel, following Stalin's example. Rather, the missing fragment should be obvious and demean the person.

Nero, for example, lives on as a victim of the damnatio memoriae, very vividly a bogeyman. The Roman house, as an extension of the owner's identity, played a special role with inscriptions, statues and other historical evidence at a time when written documents were not intended for the masses. Changing rooms, manipulating works of art and destroying statues were therefore an act to separate the ruler's political existence from his former residence. The White House, too, is nothing more than a "domus praesidentis".

Amortization fantasies in Germany

Even before the 45th President moved out, there were calls to ostracize the office holder after the end of his mandate. Not only American activists and ideologues had called for a damnatio memoriae for Trump. In August 2017, the Süddeutsche Zeitung was already concerned with the idea of ​​how posterity could deal with Trump and alluded to the Roman Emperor Caligula, whose memory his successor Claudius condemned. The Wiener Zeitung repeated the request at the beginning of January, and Hannes Stein von der Welt wrote a book in which the American people decided to eradicate any memory of Trump on behalf of an entire elite of journalists who even today do not want anything more fervently.

The process is not without contradictions. The narrative that the rule of law and democracy had returned with the arrival of Biden brands the Trump years as a quasi-dictatorship without this argument facing the paradox of how Biden would then have legally entered the White House. The ostentatious withdrawal of presidential decrees through new "executive orders" has a similar effect. This even applies to a decree to reduce the cost of insulin drugs because Trump wanted to strengthen medical centers and relieve diabetics. Here, too, the symbol remains important, not the content. Several banks, which terminated the cooperation with Trump and his company, acted in a similar way and blocked his accounts.

The behavior takes on bizarre traits

Twitter not only banned the New Yorker, it also deleted his entries and thus destroyed a not inconsiderable historical inventory of sources in order to critically assess his term of office (for better or for worse). Hollywood had already decided in 2018 to remove the star from the "Hollywood Walk of Fame". The now scheduled deletion of a scene from the US comedy "Kevin Alone in New York", in which the real estate mogul meets the protagonist, is not without absurdity, but corresponds entirely to the zeitgeist, which no longer wants to endure the former media star on the screen.


However, there are differences to the classic damnatio memoriae. Usually this is preceded by the death of the reviled. Even elected officials had enough supporters after their defeat to make such an approach dangerous. Second, there was either an overall social consensus or at least a consensus among the ruling elite. In view of the weakened but not weak Republican presence in the states and at the federal level, that is out of the question. Thirdly, it was part of the consensus of a damnatio memoriae that the respective potentate had no positive qualities or initiated processes that were beneficial for society as a whole.

Can the hurt soul heal?

Why the US President will not give therapy and Sigmund Freud was not infallible, explains the psychiatrist, theologian and bestselling author Manfred Lütz in the "Tagespost" interview. He chatted with the Jewish psychoanalyst Otto Kernberg about God and His world.

At least the latter is doubtful despite all the criticism of Trump. Father Peter M. J. Stravinskas, a Catholic theologian and apologist who started out as "Never Trumper" and over time developed into a Trump supporter, reprimanded Trump's weaknesses in character after his departure. He is a "flawed human creature", vulgar and arrested in black and white thinking. "But what good has Donald Trump done that should go on living after him?" Asks Stravinskas, highlighting Trump's actions in line with Catholic social doctrine: lowering unemployment, which particularly benefited Hispanics and blacks; Support of middle class families; Farmers aid; historical peace agreements in the Middle East; Pro-life promotion; Help for veterans. These are just a few examples that represent "the heart of Leo XIII." would warm up, as Stravinskas writes.

You don't have to share this opinion. But it becomes clear that an administration and a media elite that overthrows the monuments of a fallen but not dead emperor in this way can hardly claim to be able to heal the deep wounds of the American soul, which were long before him In office were ripped open.

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