Imperial shrines: How presidential libraries distort history

When I was in college I took a course on Roman architecture and learned that temples were built throughout the Roman Empire to celebrate the emperors as gods. Sometimes these emperor-gods would have engraved on stone or bronze tablets a Res Gestae—a self-proclaimed list of “things achieved.” I remember feeling faintly superior to the ancient Romans; after all, we didn’t enshrine every president—the good, the bad and the large number in between—in temples. Or did we?

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Exhibit revisits issues of 1936 Olympics: Berlin games at Holocaust Museum

The protests over China’s human rights record and its treatment of Tibet as Beijing prepares to host the 2008 Olympics underline a key fact: sports and politics are supposed to remain separate, but rarely do.

An exhibit now at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum outlines another stark example of how athletes can become unwitting political ambassadors: the 1936 Berlin Olympics, used by the Nazis as international propaganda to trumpet the strength, nobility and supposed superiority of the German people.

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