Sunday, October 14, 2007

The "Good" German Among Us


"The only thing neccesary for the persistance of evil is enough good people to do nothing"

This quote is important to keep in mind while reflecting on the this editorial by Frank Rich, who makes some pretty strong comparisons of what is going in the United States now to what happened before the Holocaust in Germany. Frank argues that the executive branch took advantage of the shell-shocked nation following 9/11 while the other branches failed to provide the necessary checks and balances of what was really happening. Now we are left in a harsh situation. It has become irrefutable that there is torture going on in Abu Ghraib but still the government does not acknowledge it. Instead of instating a draft to get a sufficient number of troops, private contractors like Blackwater are killing civilians in Iraq with no justice being served. Rich believes this is all part of “the White House’s plan to coax us into a blissful ignorance about the war.” Whether it is through prohibiting pictures of coffins or denying the facts, the White House is counting on the population to not question or be fully aware about what is happening. Like the good Germans who sat back and claimed ignorance while watching the Gestapo torture, we are sitting back and claiming ignorance by letting the government act this way. Those of us that do know are not doing enough to stop it. I know for sure I am not. Are we all just being “good Germans”? What can we really do? Does this situation have the potential to reach the level that it did in Germany? My answer would be no, but then again, I don't think the German's ever thought their situation did either.

3 comments:

aditi said...

I feel that both cases are very similar as the Germans probably thought that they couldn't make a difference or that it wasn't their responsibility to do anything. The Abu Ghraib prison is a similar case as we are all aware of the atrocities being committed there and still do nothing to stop it. The reason most of these acts occur is because of differences in the interpretation of the Geneva Convention and the laws and regulations of the ICCPR. Countries promote their self interests by taking advantage of the ambiguity in laws regarding American owned territories on foreign soil. The laws should be clarified and signed and ratified by all countries. However, even though a lot of the acts on prisoners are against the law as torture is used, no one says anything to a country as powerful as the US. Hence, it is vital to understand that even if the laws were clarified, they may not change the actions of the US. Would the other countries or the UN take action against the US if it did not follow laws as it is doing now in Abu Ghraib? And what would the other countries do? Economic sanctions against the US? The idea in itself is ridiculous. So before implementing more laws and policies it is important to establish the old laws and find ways to make a country like the US follow the rules and realize the repercussions of their actions.

Nikki M said...

I think Aditi has a good point about other countries holding the United States in check for our actions around the world. What country is powerful enough to really take us on and risk ruining alliance? But I think that's where the American people come in. Government is supposed to be for the people, by the people. Maybe it's too late to do anything about the current executive branch (although I am inclined to disagree with that...), but we are getting ready to have an election. As voters we need to really challenge candidates on what's going on overseas and exercise our power. It seems like government is getting comfortable knowing the American people aren't going to really respond to their actions, but we can change that. We've impeached (or nearly impeached) presidents for a lot less than the things going on right now...

Lusmaia212 said...

Our lack of action on an individual or government level against these human rights violations by our country comes down to one question "what is at stake?", what are we willing to give up to help others. How much of my liberty, and happiness is at stake for another person. What are we willing to compromise for the good of others?