Friday, May 29, 2020

Blame the people or the government?

The context I present below owes to Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, in Hitler's Willing Executioners which compellingly makes the case that the German citizenry of the early 20th century was responsible for the holocaust and that the blame cannot be laid at the feet of a single man or political party.

I think its premise is interesting when applied to current events in the United States. In each branch and in every agency of the U.S. Government there are legions of citizens carrying out genuinely evil agendas set by the current administration. One need only scan recent headlines to find examples:
  • family separation / children in cages;
  • increased detention;
  • MPP;
  • removing cost protections for healthcare and medicine;
  • censorship of social media by removing liability protections;
  • withdrawing from multi-lateral arms agreements;
  • encouragement of police brutality; open support of Nazism;
  • creation of unpayable national debt for the benefit of billionaires;
  • targeting of political enemies for prosecution and the dismissal of legitimate charges against political allies for political gain/positioning.
So, to all of those who do not feel personally responsible for the resulting harm from the policies they implement, enforce, or lend administrative or physical support to, ask yourselves the following questions:
  1. Are you compelled to do the vile task or do you have a choice?
  2. Have you justified your personal acts by elevating obedience to the rules above obedience to a personal moral code?
  3. Do you feel that your own moral guidance must be somehow wrong because people you respect don't find doing these same acts repugnant?
  4. Is there some benefit to you personally for overlooking you own moral code?
  5. Have you thought of your acts as being insignificant in the greater scheme of the evil being perpetrated such that if you didn't do the job someone else would anyway?
If this administration finds itself out-of-power after the next election, or the one after that, and its leaders and functionaries are held to account for the destruction they have caused, you will have to answer these questions under oath. And when you make your final accounting, remember...the universe already knows the answers.