What makes one become a “whistle blower”? When does one begin to resist?
These are just recent musings over my second cup of morning joe, recalling Sergeant Schultz of Hogan’s Heroes. “I know nothing! I was not even here!”
We used to laugh at Schultz; he was the consummate “good German”. Eyes closed, not seeing what was taking place around him lest he carry a portion of blame. For doing nothing. For not resisting. “I did not even get up this morning!!”.
Most Germans claimed ignorance of the rampant butchery and genocide immediately after the war. “We were lied to; we didn’t know what was going on in the camp”; camps sometimes within walking distance of the towns bearing their now infamous names, chimneys spouting human smoke.
Yet even at the height of the Nazi tyranny there were resisters in the heart of the Reich. Sophie and Hans Scholl, core members of the White Rose, along with Christoph Probst and Willi Graf, all in their twenties, guillotined by the Gestapo.
“Isn’t it true that every honest German is ashamed of his government these days? Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes, crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure, reach the light of day? ”
The Kreisau Circle, a group of anti-nazis headed by Helmut James Graf von Moltke (also executed by the Gestapo) was another resistance group working to build a new Germany, a new Europe.
“Since the conquest of Poland three hundred thousand Jews have been murdered in this country in the most bestial way. The German people slumber on in their dull, stupid sleep and encourage these fascist criminals. Each man wants to be exonerated of a guilt of this kind, each one continues on his way with the most placid, the calmest conscience. But he cannot be exonerated; he is guilty!”
So when do a people resist? We did it here in America during the Vietnam War – but after conscription was ended most of us went back to our couches, sat on our asses and lived our lives. After all, the war didn’t affect us anymore. Today war is for other people. War is for those who volunteer.
So what does it take to drive our people to protest? How much do we have to know before we do more than complain? What will we have to be shown?
Torture? We probably still do it. Indefinite detention of American citizens and foreigners without habeas corpus or charges? The killing of American citizens by our government without public charges (let alone a trial) based on “secret” information from “secret” sources? The “collateral damage” killing of women and children while “droning terrorists”? The massive secret sweep by the NSA of the lives of American citizens under “secret” authorities – without our right to know or the knowledge of our elected representatives, save those on the Intelligence Committees, who can’t tell us anyway or support maintaining the secrets.
The sweeping up into the security state of the judiciary through the establishment of the secret FISA courts? The ability of the government to break down your door tonight and take you away and hold you indefinitely without charges at a secret location – and probably water board you – based on “secret” information? Shall it take an attack on another country without just cause and without a vote in Congress?
Seems when it came to snitches who revealed much of this to us we cared more about them than we cared about the truth of what they told us.
Suppose you saw a war crime with your own eyes? Warrant Officer Hugh Thompson did. He was piloting his helicopter at My Lai and saw the killing of women and children by Lt. Calley’s unit. W/O Thompson landed his chopper and rescued Vietnamese still alive; he reported the massacre. Now the killing of civilians by our troops was a common place occurrence during the Vietnam War, but not for W/O Thompson.
W/O Hugh Thompson – 1966
The military couldn’t cover it up – because real war correspondents (not the in-bed kind) were on the scene, there were pictures, there were other soldiers who came forward and spoke of the killing of civilians. The My Lai incident was fully covered by all major news and broadcast stations world wide but the pictures of the murdered civilians were first published not in the New York Times or the Washington Post; they were published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Times have certainly changed.
Many called Thompson a traitor at the time; after all our troops were at war. But Thompson knew the objective truth – soldiers who kill unarmed women and children are criminals. He saw it and would not simply close his eyes and fly away. He recognized a higher “truth.”
When Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers our government called him “the most dangerous man in America”. If he did it today and remained in this country does anyone doubt he would spend the rest of his life in prison?
Yet it took 30 years for the United States to honor Hugh Thompson, awarding him and his crew the Soldier’s Medal in 1998, the highest decoration not involving combat with the enemy. The Army wanted to do it quietly and hush-hush. Thompson refused. It had to be public and his crew had to be there as well. President Clinton awarded the medal.
Today our media, when it mentions snitches at all, seems a lot more interested in their lives, public and private, than it does about investigating what they told us. Perhaps the media knows something I don’t; something I find hard to fathom. Maybe the media already knows nobody gives a rat’s ass about what they told us so long as we can continue to sit on our asses and consume what we like. Or perhaps the media is simply bought and paid for – or cowed.
Are we all becoming Sgt. Schultz – the “good German”? Or do masses of us no longer believe there is an objective truth?
This week Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of the beleaguered Facebook was asked how he felt about people who share holocaust-denial ideas on his platform to which he responded that though he found holocaust denialism “deeply offensive” he felt that “at the end of the day. I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong.”
Apparently his view is that holocaust denialism is something that different people just get wrong and while he finds it deeply offensive, there is nothing wrong with people stating as fact things that are untrue. All in the name of freedom of speech I presume.
“Wrong” is the keyword here; it implies there is a “right” and a “wrong” that is knowable and therefore a provable objective reality. All the while Facebook puts forth 20 versions of the “truth” to an audience which has to discern what is true and what is not.
Pick one. You saw it on Facebook.
We have seen Zuckerberg’s brand of rosy, idealistic pluralist thinking before. Obama epitomize it. While his opponents made up false bullshit about his being Muslim, not born in Hawaii, being a homosexual. a terrorist he insisted on giving his opponents the benefit of the doubt. It was a luxury they would never think of granting to him.
Liberals take to the political battlefields with a clip board while the right comes with tanks. Liberals are more concerned with “fairness” while the right is only concerned with power. Which is why the right always wins – they do not play by the same rules.
Republicans want to gerrymander the hell out of districts and Dems only want to keep them “fair.” Republicans want to disenfranchise the poor and non-white voters while Dems only want to keep voting as it is. Dems have positioned themselves in the center of the political teeter-totter while Republicans have moved to the extreme right. Which way is the see-saw leaning?
There is a reason Dems win the popular vote and lose elections.
Evil must be identified. Nazi and white supremacists are not merely “wrong” – they stand and intend to destroy the fundamentals of democratic society. They lie. Like Geobbels.
“A lie once told remains a lie but a lie told a thousand times becomes the truth.”
One can’t fight fascism by leaving their falsehood filled screeds intact or slightly less visible.
Secondly, neo-liberalist economics has resulted in vast income inequality and left tens of millions under-employed and disenfranchised; working 60 hours a week to just make ends meet with no sick days or pensions. People who can no longer buy a home in the city they were born in, These folks are looking for a scapegoat and the right has given them two – immigrants – and liberals.
Meanwhile the likes of Hillary and Zuckerberg think nothing has to be changed structurally; just rearrange the deck chairs.
Those working class white folks in the heartland who voted for Emperor Don were forgotten by “left” – it forgot the workers and no longer represented them.
On the far right, immigrants and liberals are the new Jews. Do you seriously think there would be any shortage of guards for the watchtowers at the camps?
Yes I know. I’m being a hysterical leftie.