Henri Philippe Pétain represents the latest example of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s political correctness run amok.
Pétain’s name appears on a sidewalk plaque along the Canyon of Heroes with about 200 others, memorialized for his defense of France during World War I. The plaque, his middle name misspelled with two Ls, reads simply: October 26, 1931 º Henri Phillippe Pétain, Marshal of France.
A decade later, during World War II, Pétain headed the French Vichy government, which collaborated with the Nazis and deported thousands of French Jews to their death in concentration camps. After the war, he was tried and sentenced to life in prison, where he died in 1951.
Enter de Blasio. After the neo-Nazi demonstration last month in Virginia over the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, de Blasio said NYC would review “all symbols of hate” on city property. “The commemoration for Nazi collaborator Philippe Pétain in the Canyon of Heroes will be one of the first we remove,” he said.
That is hardly the same as removing Confederate monuments, many erected during Reconstruction as a white-supremacy taunt to black Americans. And judging from the scores of tourists and office workers I saw last week who stepped on or over Pétain’s sidewalk plaque last week, not one noticed his name.
Depressingly, de Blasio is not alone in calling for such action. Some Democrats also seem to be flaunting symbols of divisiveness.
Take Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has urged the Army to remove the street names of Lee and Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson at Fort Hamilton. The West Point graduates served for decades before the Civil War.
Then there’s City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who wants to remove the statue of Christopher Columbus at Columbus Circle, because of the explorer’s maltreatment of native populations.
Rather than remove these names or statues, why not acknowledge in separate plaques their alleged misdeeds, along with their heroism?
Who knows? Mark-Viverito might acknowledge the bomb-making skills of Oscar López Rivera, the Puerto Rican nationalist she has called a hero but who headed a militant group whose bombs led to the deaths and maimings of many New Yorkers.