During a recent visit to the National Museum of the United States Air Force on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, OH I found something that initially gave me hope. It is interesting that a federal installation is hosting a Holocaust display although this is well outside of the mission of the U.S. Air Force and the NMUSAF. I hoped that the tremendous sacrifices of all the civilians from various nations who lost their lives in the genocides of the 20th Century would be so honored with their own large and elaborate displays. In World War II alone there were eleven million Soviet civilians who lost their lives. Many of them starved to death in their bombed out cities which had been turned into veritable death camps while under siege by German troops. There are also the sixteen million Chinese civilians who died during the same conflict. Many of these people were tortured and massacred in operations such as the Rape of Nanking. My hope turned to dismay as I continued my tour of this Air Force installations museum. It appears that the U.S. Air Force suffers from a serious case of bigotry. The lives of six million Jewish people warrant an entire display whereas the deaths of eleven million Soviet people and sixteen million Chinese people who died under equally appalling conditions does not even receive a whisper. With losses two and three times larger it would seem that one would expect a display of equal size at a minimum. In reality adequately telling the story of the Soviet and Chinese losses would require displays much larger than the Holocaust display.
Where too are the displays near the World War I gallery? The total deaths for that conflict reached sixteen million. There were over two million civilian deaths from the Ottoman Empire and one and a half million civilian deaths in Russia alone. The U.S. Air Force further neglected the thirty to forty million civilians killed by our Cold War adversary the Soviets. In the same gallery there is no display for the forty million civilians killed by our other major Cold War adversary the Chinese. What of the two million Korean civilians and the two million Vietnamese civilians who lost their lives in those conflicts?
It is truly appalling and disgusting that the U.S. Air Force honors one ethnic group who lost six million people and ignores tens of millions of civilians who were slaughtered in equally heinous manners. What is driving this glaring and disgusting oversight? How did these other people not even receive a footnote? It is disturbing that the tens of millions who have been ignored are all from Asia which seems to indicate a not so subtle Xenophobia. A wiser and non-bigoted option would be to not have a display at all if all of those who suffered in like manner can not be remembered. As it stands the U.S. Air Force and by default the U.S. federal government have engaged in an action that is an unimaginably large statement of ethnic superiority.