Another day, another completely avoidable problem for the Washington Commanders. It’s Thursday, you know what that means. Another problem! What about hiring a research firm to look into sexual assault claims against the franchise owner? No, it already happened this week. What about that bland team name announcement? That’s over. Now we have a key defensive player tweeting that he wanted to have dinner with Adolf Hitler.
On Wednesday, Commander’s Defense Lineman Jonathan Allen decided to hold a question-and-answer session with his 67,900 Twitter followers and got the lay-up query “You can dine with three people. Dead or alive. Who do you need?” from?” Allen’s first of the three responses is amazing: “My grandpa.” Perfect answer. None of my grandfathers are alive and I would do anything to eat with one of them again. His second choice is on the other end of that spectrum: “Hitler.” One of the worst people who ever lived was at the helm of Nazi Germany during World War II and whose damage is irreparable on this planet.
For Allen to suggest that as a choice, regardless of the reasoning, is incredibly stupid. “It’s just a tweet” normalizes seeing his name. It cannot be denied that his hatred led to the death of six million Jews, almost a third of the world’s Jewish population at the time, almost six million Soviet citizens, about three million Soviet prisoners of war, more than three million other European citizens, 270,000 disabled people, about 10,000 German gay men who did not adhere to “sexual and social conformity”, according to the Website of the US Holocaust Memorial Museumand numerous others.
If that sounds heavy, it’s because it is and should be. Everyone makes mistakes and definitely deserves a second chance. Not everyone makes the mistake of calling out the name of someone who has hurt so many people so much that I feel uncomfortable, personally and professionally, for retyping his name in this story. What was Allen’s reasoning for his second choice for a welcome dinner? “He’s a military genius and I like military tactics,” Allen wrote in a now-deleted tweet, alongside his original reply. “But honestly, I’d like to sort his brain out as to why he did what he did. I also assume that the people I’ve chosen should answer all of my questions honestly.”
Let me ignore Allen’s third choice for Michael Jackson by misspelling the King of Pop’s name in his tweet. I do not brush aside his erroneous view that the former German Chancellor is a ‘military genius’. He wasn’t. By no means to the imagination. He was fooled into thinking that the D-Day invasion would take place from the French region of Pas de Calaisabout 240 miles northeast of Normandy. He also failed to properly plan Operation “Barbarossa” in 1941, considered one of the greatest military operations of modern warfare, according to the Holocaust Museum. The Nazi army only planned a quick takeover of the Soviet Union and no other outcome. And when that didn’t happen and the fighting continued into winter, they were unprepared.
Allen recognized in another post that his dinner guest was “one (of), if not the most, bad person who ever lived.” Of course he was, but you can’t post both feelings with the same weight. Didn’t a little bell go off in your head about his evil nature that made you pause to tweet about him? Jonathan, you could have picked literally anyone who ever lived. If you want to go the military genius route, there are dozens of Americans to choose from. How to do George Patton, Douglas MacArthur or Colin Powell sound?
After being rightfully attacked for his post, Allen posted this apology: “(Previously) I tweeted something that probably hurt people and I apologize for what I said. I didn’t express well what I was trying to say and I realize it was stupid!” Is that the best thing you can do to apologize? I have a better idea. Why not visit the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, located in the city you represent? the DC metropolitan area is home to nearly 300,000 Jews call home, according to the Jewish virtual library.
This is a situation where Allen could apply the Judaism principles of tikkun olam, literally translated to “restoration of the world” from Hebrew, which essentially means to do the right thing regardless of the actions of others. It would be in good faith for Allen to do more than provide a written apology for the tweet. It’s a long off-season, I’m sure you can find a few hours to learn a thing or two. I know I did that every time I walked down those hallways. That would make this situation a blessing in disguise because that tweet is a mistake that can’t happen again.