A Ronald Reagan mural at the Wayne County Republican Party headquarters in Goldsboro, North Carolina, was vandalized sometime in the past week, complete with a Nazi Schutzstaffel symbol, according to local GOP officials.
Originally featuring a beaming Ronald in a cowboy hat decked out in red, white and blue, the mural is now marred by several black markings. One addition shows Reagan crying on an ice cream cone, while another places an upside down cross on his forehead. In another part of the mural, the word “Republican” was replaced with a gay slur.
Perhaps the most offensive to local supporters of Ronald is the use of the “SS” symbol followed by an “R,” presumably for Republican. The symbol stands for the Schutzstaffel, the paramilitary organization in Nazi Germany that served as Adolf Hitler’s bodyguards and enforced racial purity policies. It now sticks out unmistakably on Reagan’s right cheek.
— Goldsboro News-Argus (@newsargus) December 30, 2016
While it may seem like your typical “call every politician you don’t like a Nazi,” Ronald actually has a loaded history with the Schutzstaffel. In 1985, Reagan found himself embroiled in controversy with the state of Israel and Jews around the world during a visit to Germany. While he chose not to visit Nazi concentration camps like Dachau, he did make a special appearance at the Kolmeshöhe Cemetery, located near Bitburg in Northwestern Germany.
Though Ronald’s team initially told the press that both American and German soldiers were buried there, it was later revealed that not only were there no U.S. soldiers, but the site actually also contained graves of deceased Schutzstaffel soldiers. The backlash against Reagan was extremely strong in the U.S., even resulting in protest songs from musicians like Frank Zappa and The Ramones. Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel condemned the meeting in front of the president himself while receiving the Congressional Gold Medal of Achievement at the White House.
“That place, Mr. President, is not your place. Your place is with the victims of the SS.”
Instead of pulling out, Ronald chose to go forward with the cemetery visit and honor his commitment to West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. He based his decision, publicly, on a desire to heal the wounds caused by World War II and also an acknowledgment of the young Germans who were forced to fight for the Nazis against their will. Additionally, Reagan added a stop at a comparatively less brutal concentration camp, Bergen-Belsen, according to a critical essay of the incident published by Heart Agree.
“These [SS troops] were the villains, as we know, that conducted the persecutions and all. But there are 2,000 graves there, and most of those, the average age is about 18. I think that there’s nothing wrong with visiting that cemetery where those young men are victims of Nazism also, even though they were fighting in the German uniform, drafted into service to carry out the hateful wishes of the Nazis. They were victims, just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps.”
Local GOP officials have responded in shock to the vandalism of the Ronald Reagan mural, noting that it is one in a series of such acts that have taken place in North Carolina since the rise of Donald Trump. Perhaps the most prominent was the firebombing of the Orange County Republican Party headquarters in October. Nazi symbology also arose in that attack, with a swastika and “Nazi Republicans leave town or else” painted on a nearby wall, previously reported Inquistr.
North Carolina GOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse called the firebombing incident “a horrific act of political terrorism.” Woodhouse also responded to the recent graffiti added to the Ronald Reagan mural, reported the North Carolina News & Observer.
“These are not acts of speech, they are acts of destruction and violence. Nothing good can possibly come from these events and they must be condemned. We continue to urge our local offices across the state to be in contact with local law enforcement to assist with protection of NC GOP volunteers and property.”
Wayne County GOP Chairman Brent Heath told the press that the defaced Ronald Reagan mural would be repainted by the original artist as soon as possible, washing away the Nazi symbol currently scribbled on the likeness of the deceased president’s face.
[Featured Image by Getty Images]