The Proposed Harvey Milk Stamp - and Some Others

The (San Francisco) Bay Area Reporter states  that the US Postal Service is considering issuing a stamp to commemorate Harvey Milk, the openly gay city Supervisor who was gunned down in San Francisco's City Hall in 1978.

You would think the advocates of this stamp would be generous enough in spirit to offer to include the image of the late Mayor George Moscone who was gunned down first that day, along with Harvey Milk. Does Mayor Moscone get no postal recognition?  Could this "Milk only" stamp proposal be heterophobia? Was Mayor Moscone's murder any less of a crime?

When the Catholic colony and state of Maryland first came into existence in America, the leaders wisely understood that they should invite Protestants to live in its borders and treat them fairly or the colony -- and later the state -- would eventually fail politically. I believe the advocates for a Harvey Milk stamp could learn something about the inclusiveness that the left is always touting -- but too often advocating as tolerance only of their interests -- from the Marylanders.

But as long as the US Postal Service is considering stamps of people who probably would not be considered if they were not murdered in an historic event, how about a series of stamps commemorating individual police, firefighters, members of the military and civilians who died on 9/11 on both the planes and on the ground? 

The Postal Service has created a stamp of famous photo of three firefighters raising a flag at Ground Zero, yet why not more? They are constantly looking for new design ideas that appeal to people. How about stamps commemorating the heroism of the military in rescuing people at the Pentagon attack site on 9/11? And how about a stamp commemorating Todd Beamer, who lead the small group -- including a gay man -- that overpowered the hijackers on United Airlines Flight 93 over the skies of Pennsylvania, thwarting an airborne attack on the Capitol or the White House?

I believe some personal history is worthwhile to add here. I am the son of Holocaust survivors and grew up with a limited, though detailed, perception of the persecutions of World War II. I was over 30 years old when I first learned about the actual figure of people murdered in concentration camps was 11 million, including around 5 million Gypsies, gays, political dissidents, the mentally ill, etc. I was also over 40 years old when I first learned that the Imperial Japanese military had occupied China since the 1930s and had killed an estimated 10 million Chinese, mostly civilians. I was over thirty when I learned about the secret Irish Hedge Schools where children were taught to read in secret because the British wanted the Irish to be illiterate. I was also over forty when I learned that Nazi U-boats had sunk many ships off Gulf States, Virginia and New Jersey coasts of the United States. Nothing about learning these other facts diminished my considerations for the sufferings of my ethnic group, but rather gave me a greater perspective of my history and greatly enhanced my understanding of both evil and the historic conflicts of all human beings. And this knowledge increased my sanity.

In simple, emotional terms, learning about these other persecutions showed me that the world was not just about my family's suffering. I strongly suggest the supporters of the Harvey Milk stamp also learn this lesson as well, for, if they do, it will lower their level of alienation and make them realize the world isn't organized just to pick on them and wallowing in a victim status is not an answer to their problems.

A proposed stamp that ignores Mayor Moscone's murder will hurt the gays more than help them.