Were divisiveness, anger and protests the anticipated outcome of placing the comfort-women statue in Glendale’s Central Park? Was this, at least in part, supposed to be an antiwar statement?
Whatever the intentions were, this memorial has slipped into a blame-game, finger-pointing arena, with the city caught in the middle of an ongoing dispute between Japan and Korea. Is it one thing for us to say, “We did that to them,” and erect a memorial to illustrate our own bad behavior, and another to say, “They did that to them”?
Clearly this is one of untold thousands of examples of man’s inhumanity that deserves to be acknowledged. Yet, we have many cultures represented in Glendale: should this statue stand alone? A group of statues or memorials might include Sadako holding a paper crane, or a migrant worker picking grapes, something symbolic of the Armenian Genocide or the atrocities committed during the Vietnam War, and more.
These statues or memorials might illustrate not only horrors that we must avoid in the future, but include symbols that celebrate peace. Glendale’s Central Park, across from the library, could be ideal as a “Peace Park”, similar to what other cities have established, dedicated to Peace, Harmony and Unity.
Parents would now have a broader context for the comfort-women statue, and a great “teachable moment” opportunity for their children, while preserving the peaceful ambience of the park.
Perhaps it is time to turn this controversy into creative and conciliatory conversations.