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Writer-s-Bloc

America has lost its way

By David Crawford

At the end of the Second World War, during the Nuremburg war crime trials, it was learned how soldiers and guards at extermination camps felt they were unable to say no to the orders they received. 

Orders which would have been abhorrent to a civilian (“Shoot this prisoner…”) could not, in the soldier’s minds, be disobeyed. It was an order from a superior. Orders must be obeyed. Ergo sum, the prisoner was shot. The Jews and Gypsies were loaded onto trains to Auschwitz. I am doing what I was told to do.

A lawful order could not be disobeyed, on pain of being executed yourself. Questioning an order was unthinkable. 

Orders are orders.

This attitude ultimately led to most western democracies adapting their laws and codes of conduct such that soldiers, police officers, firefighters, anyone, is allowed to deny an order if they believe it to be illegal. Similar to being able to not work in an unsafe workplace. 

Moral superiority was achieved. Soldiers would never be robots, murdering the masses under the auspices of ‘lawful orders.’ The sadists were restrained.

Fast forward to today.

The moral outrage being exhibited by most of the world over the death of George Floyd is considerable, and righteous.

But the outrage is not shared by all.

Police still wade into peaceful protesters, swinging truncheons and aiming pepper spray, because they have been told to do so. Would they do this if they were alone, and out of uniform? Where is their moral bravery then? 

Helicopter pilots still hover over crowds, dispersing peaceful protesters with their rotor downwash. Why did the pilot not say, “No”?

A U.S. Defence Department official resigns in protest because the Secretary of Defence sided with the idiot Donald Trump in his church publicity stunt.

Good for them. Good for all whistleblowers.

My question is – where is everyone else?

Why only one whistleblower over the Ukraine scandal? Why only one defence official resigning after the little man held up his Bible with his boss alongside?

Where are the hordes of those who have morals and outrage and shock at what is happening?

They sit in silence. 

And here is why I get scared, actually fearful for my friends in the United States.

The streets are filled with those willing to say it like it is, and to express their outrage. And the leader of their country wants to roll out the tanks to stop them. The bayonets are clicking onto rifles of their own army.

The telling thing about American society is that the halls of power are silent. Enablers and supporters of this fascism lay quiet in their cubicles, unwilling to disobey orders or make waves – because they enjoy being close to power, or are fearful of repercussions, or need the pay cheque.

Silence reigns. And it is deafening.

I believe these silent ones are just as guilty, just as abhorrent, as those who are murdering our black friends.

If you think for one instant that the United States is morally superior to WWII Germany, if you think there is no way any good American could ever find themselves at the end of a smoking gun, standing over a death pit, look no further than the officers harassing and killing black people who are just living their lives. Or the ones herding children into fenced cages along the southern U.S. border. Or the ones typing the policy memos for what law enforcement should do.

These people are not, or weren’t, monsters. They truly believe they are being good, upstanding Americans as they aim their rubber bullets or load magazines of real ones, or click shut the locks on fences.

But blind, unfailing allegiance to a morally corrupt administration and an idiot for a commander-in-chief tells the real story.

Orders are orders.

The teenagers strangling 'dissidents’ in Cambodia’s killing fields were not psychotic deviants. They were raised to believe that doctors and teachers and anyone educated were evil and must be rooted out and exterminated.

People able to think for themselves were the enemy. They pledged their Oath of Allegiance every morning, just like any good citizen. And then they went to work.

If you think Americans could never descend into this kind of madness, you haven’t been paying attention.

The airport screener who demands little old ladies in wheelchairs stand up to be scanned because they might be a terrorist and orders are orders, you’ve just found your first SS recruit.

If you need more, look at the police officers and their mob mentality as they wail on protesters.

Look at staffers in the White House not picking up the phone to reporters.

They are all just following orders. Or, even more disgusting, they are just going along, saying nothing. Not making waves. Turning a blind eye. 

Not looking at the knee on the neck. Not wanting to know where the trains are going.

Or that is what they’ll claim in their cowardly defence when or if the legal consequences hit the fan for them and their ilk. Who could have known this was going on? What a terrible thing! I’d better wring my hands in sympathy…

The cognitive dissonance of knowing, or claiming to know, what is right and just, yet still following orders, or actively ignoring what you see, will not and should not wash.

The helicopter still flies.

The protesters still get pounded.

George Floyd still gets killed.

America has lost its way, and it saddens me. I am not without hope, however, so keep marching, keep shouting, keep holding your vigils and peacefully holding the high moral ground.

It may, I hope, bring out the people who are just going along, and encourage the ones on the front lines to say, “No!”



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Welcome to Writer’s Bloc, an opinion column for guest writers to share their experiences and viewpoints with our readers.

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Opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of Castanet. They are not news stories reported by our staff.



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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