Another day, another completely avoidable problem for the Washington Commanders. It’s Thursday, you know what that means. Another problem! How about hiring an investigative firm to look at claims of sexual assault against the franchise’s owner? Nope, it already happened this week. What about that lackluster team-name announcement? That’s over. Now we have a key defensive player tweeting that he wanted to get dinner with Adolf Hitler.
On Wednesday, Commanders defensive lineman Jonathan Allen decided to have a question-and-answer session with his 67,900 Twitter followers and was penned the lay-up query “You can have dinner with three people. Dead or alive. Who are you inviting?” Allen’s first of the trio of responses is a great one: “My grandad.” Perfect answer. Neither of my grandfathers are living and I’d do anything for the opportunity to have one more meal with either of them. His second choice is at the opposite end of that spectrum: “Hitler.” One of the worst people to ever live, was at the helm of Nazi Germany during World War II and who’s harm is irreparable on this planet.
For Allen to suggest that as a choice no matter the reasoning is incredibly stupid. “It’s just a tweet” normalizes seeing his name. There’s no way to get around the fact that his hatred led to the deaths of six million Jews, nearly a third of the world’s Jewish population at the time, nearly six million Soviet civilians, around three million Soviet POWs, more than three million other European civilians, 270,000 disabled people, around 10,000 German gay men who didn’t comply to ”sexual and social conformity,” according to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s website, and plenty of others.
If that sounds heavy, it’s because it is and it should be. Everyone makes mistakes and deserves second chances, absolutely. Not everyone makes the mistake of invoking the name of someone who caused so much pain to so many people that I feel uncomfortable, personally and professionally, typing his name again in this story. What was Allen’s reasoning for his second choice of welcomed diner? “He’s a military genius and I love military tactics,” Allen wrote in a now-deleted tweet, alongside his original answer. “But honestly I would want to pick his brain as to why he did what he did. I’m also assuming that the people I’ve chosen have to answer all my questions honestly.”
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Let me disregard Allen’s third choice of Michael Jackson, spelling the King of Pop’s name wrong in his tweet. I’m not sweeping away his incorrect view of the former German Chancellor being a “military genius.” He wasn’t. Not by any stretch of the imagination. He was fooled into thinking the D-Day invasion would take place from France’s Pas de Calais region, about 150 miles northeast of Normandy. He also failed to properly plan Operation “Barbarossa” in 1941, considered one of the largest military operations of modern warfare, per the Holocaust Museum. The Nazi army only planned for a quick takeover of the Soviet Union and no other outcome. And when that didn’t happen and battles continued into winter, they were unprepared.
Allen did recognize in another post that his dinner guest was “one (of), if not the most, evil persons to have ever lived.” Of course he was, but you don’t get to post both sentiments with equal weight. No bell went off in your head about his evil nature that gave you pause about tweeting about him? Jonathan, you could’ve literally picked anyone that’s ever lived. If you want to go the military genius route, there are dozens of Americans to choose from. How do George Patton, Douglas MacArthur, or Colin Powell sound?
After being rightly attacked for his post, Allen posted this apology: “(Earlier) I tweeted something that probably hurt people and I apologize about what I said. I didn’t express properly what I was trying to say and I realize it was dumb!” That’s the best you could do in apologizing? I have a better idea. Why don’t you visit U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, based in the city you represent? The DC metropolitan area is where nearly 300,000 Jews call home, per the Jewish Virtual Library.
This is a situation where Allen could apply the principles from Judaism of tikkun olam, literally translated to “repair of the world” from Hebrew, essentially meaning to act in the correct fashion, no matter the actions of others. It would be in that good faith for Allen to do more than a written apology for the tweet. It’s a long offseason, I’m sure you can find a few hours to learn a thing or two. I know I did every time I walked within those halls. That would make this situation a blessing in disguise because that tweet is a mistake that can’t happen again.