Born in Germany in 1937, I was too young to bear responsibility for the nightmares of the Third Reich – but not the burden of that native history.

Now I am an American citizen, again of a shamefully culpable nation. Our immoral wars and other foreign interventions have left untold millions dead. We are the largest contributor to already disastrous environmental degradation. Greed trumps health, economic justice and peace. The wisdom of the Founding Fathers has occasioned in us an exceptionalism, a belief in our superiority that has metastasized into white nationalism and the cruel abuses of unfettered capitalism.

“Make America great again” mimics “Deutschland über alles.” It is code racism, merciless, selfish and deluded, overreaching in sustained military imperialism and dismissive of the reality that thwarts its designs and the resulting mountainous debt. It is a suicidal course.

Meanwhile, Germany, redeeming the time, has become a leader of the free world, abandoning fossil fuels and welcoming refugees – one million in one year – 1.5 percent of the 65 million refugees worldwide.

President Trump would shun “the huddled masses” and, with roughly three times Germany’s population and 27 times the acreage, cut U.S. admissions to 45,000, one-14th of 1 percent. Why are the Germans more than 50 times more humane? Thoreau’s condemnation of the government of his day resounds: One “cannot without disgrace be associated with it.”

Yes, statues celebrating the Lost Cause should come down. Perhaps it is also time to take down the Statue of Liberty, which has become a symbol of hypocrisy and racist cruelty in the face of numbers of suffering refugees unseen since World War II – and for which we are most responsible!

Ursula L. Slavick

Portland