What makes one become a “whistle blower”? When does one begin to resist?
This morning I was out on the lanai nursing my second cup of joe, musing about such things; 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 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 and 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 would it take to drive our people to protest? How much do the whistle blowers have to tell us 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 we attack another country without just cause and without a vote in Congress?
Seems we care more about the “snitches” than we care 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.
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; 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.
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.
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?
Today our media, when it mentions them at all, seems a lot more interested in Ed Snowden and Chelsea Manning’s life, 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.
We are becoming Sgt. Schultz – the “good German”.
So, what’s going on with Beyonce, JZ and Solange?