For the Week of July 18, 2005
For the first time in my career I've been afraid this week, afraid to write what I feel.
I had a really good political column in me, but I kept putting it off.
Then I came across a piece on Lawrence Lessig, the copyright lawyer. He was finally facing some demons from his own past, representing fellow victims of a horror that he couldn't talk to his own parents about, even 30 years later. This is what he finally concluded.
"The real evil isn't the Hitler. The evil is the good German. The evil is all those people who could've just picked up the goddamn telephone and stopped it."
Although my own father and his two brothers all served in the U.S. military during World War II, the Good German is an image that has haunted me all my life. How could it happen? Germany was the center of European civilization, the home of Bach, of Beethoven, of Schiller and Goethe, of rationalism, Einstein, and gemutlichkeit. My high school German teacher, Karl Kruse, claimed to be a German war veteran. To hear him tell it he lost World War II all by himself. What was he, really? He was the man who introduced me to Hesse, to Kafka, to poetry and beauty.
"You must believe we never knew," said Marlene Dietrich in "Judgment at Nuremberg," playing the widow of a German general. Like others playing Germany in that movie she was in fact a U.S. veteran, insisting on entertaining so close to the front the government had to commission her a colonel.
"You condemned yourself the first time you ordered the death of a man you knew to be guilty." This was the final judgment Spencer Tracy gave Burt Lancaster, another U.S. veteran playing a conscience-stricken former German judge, at the movie's end.
It was an easy call to make, at the time. Act in evil's name and you become evil. Hide from the evil around you and you become complicit.
So how complicit am I? How complicit are you?
There can no longer be any doubt that the Bush Administration crossed the Nuremberg line some time ago. Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, the creation of a secret, separate torture system, with no controls nor due process. The invasion of a sovereign, secular dictatorship which had nothing to do with 9-11, and no WMDs. The killing of untold numbers of Iraqis, which goes on to this day. Selected through a Florida coup, civil liberties tossed in the name of "Homeland Security," the press cowed, scandals ignored and uninvestigated.
Yet re-elected with an increased majority.
Were you complicit? I worked against it. I worked against this two-headed dictatorship, marrying the worst of 20th Century Orwellian fascism with 15th century religious intolerance, yet I feel my own guilt. How about you?
Who are you angriest at now, them or me?
My own anger reached a boiling point recently when some Democratic Party group urged that the Congress impeach this President. As though that would do any good. As though that were even possible.
We have reached a point, frankly, where Americans are no longer a competent judge or jury for what has gone on. All the circuit breakers that worked for 200 years have tripped, yet the horror goes on. We're all either complicit or hopelessly biased. But when history's reckoning comes someone has to play Spencer Tracy in our movie.
So I have a modest proposal. Forget impeachment. When this is over accept the jurisdiction of the World Court, over all of it. Hand Saddam Hussein to the Hague. But open up this nation's books as well. Have a public, international investigation of all the horrors of our time, listen to the justifications, and if there's a case to be made extradite.
Send Bush to the Hague. Send Cheney, and Rumsfeld, Gonzalez and even Lynndie England if asked. I can no longer judge this. And neither, frankly, can you. If the court demands reparations, pay them. No matter how humiliating to our own nation, to you and to me, justice must be done. Justice will be done, God willing.
9-11 wasn't Pearl Harbor. It was Kristallnacht. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kristallnacht
I'm now helping to produce a special blog on Open Source for ZDNet.
I work as a freelance writer in Atlanta, and am on the development team for EgoScout, a new kind of mediator for mobile phone users.
My last non-fiction book, "The Blankenhorn Effect" won the Computer/Internet category in the 2003 Independent Publisher (IPPY) awards. Write me for a PDF copy of my latest novel, "Baptists are for Dunking."
On my Mooreslore blog I've written a new novel, "The Chinese Century." It's a story told in real-time, with real characters, but entirely fictional, dealing with the consequences of the falling dollar. I'm beginning a sequal, "American Diaspora," exploring the themes of the first book but with more fictional characters. It's a true alternate history, but set in the present day.
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Antitrust has become a process. It's not a goal, but a weapon in the business war.
None of the Joe Jobs done on me have used the IP address for a-clue.com as the sending agency. They have used either the actual account held by the spammer at the time or the address of the spam zombie used to originate the mail.
The American Diaspora
ZDNet Open Source
Clued-in was the BBC coverage of the London attacks, especially their use of images taken by victims and eyewitnesses
Clueless is John Vinocur, who still doesn't get the 20th century's great lesson, that anyone can be the Nazi, and any people the Jews.
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