Georg Duckwitz - I had never heard of him until last week, but he is worth remembering. He once did one small thing and as a result many lives were saved. I suppose it was not particularly courageous, but had there been a few more Georgs, history might read differently today.
Duckwitz was a fully paid-up Nazi. In 1943, he had what must have seemed like a pretty cushy job in the Third Reich. He was naval attache at the German embassy in Copenhagen.
Duckwitz was told by his superior that orders had come from Berlin to start rounding up Danish Jews for deportation. Duckwitz relayed the information to his contacts in the Danish Government and, over the next few nights, 6000 Danish Jews were spirited away to Sweden. When the SS came to round them up, they were all gone.
Georg Duckwitz didn't do much. He didn't kill anyone. He didn't make any great speeches. He didn't suffer for his treachery. But you have to say that what Georg did was exactly the right thing - just what needed to be done in that time and place. I wish I had known him.
Georg is on my mind as I read a piece in Thursday's Age by Michael Kelly, editor-in-chief of the US National Journal. Mr Kelly's thesis is summed up in the headline, 'Why the pacifist view is evil'. By a piece of weird and twisted logic, Mr Kelly proposes that pacifism equals fascism.
Kelly is all the way with President George W. Bush. We are either with him, without reservation or qualification, in his fantasy of a war on terrorism, or we are terrorists; or at least apologists for terrorists.
As a wishy-washy pacifist, let me say a word for the morality of non-violence.
First, I do not know of any person who, while dissenting from the military response to terrorism, does not wish most fervently that the murderers of September 11 be found, arrested, brought to trial and punished. Kelly's characterisation of pacifists as moral relativists or naive purists is absurd and offensive.
Second, pacifists (for want of a better word) are people who say of a situation such as we are in, "There are two ways we can deal with this. We can go to war. Or we can do the other. On the whole, we would rather do the other".
The other is not acquiescence. It is looking for a course of action that achieves justice and limits violence as far as possible and improves outcomes for the maximum number of people. The great exemplar for pacifists everywhere is Mahatma Gandhi. He was not in favor of doing nothing; he was for doing the most constructive thing in the circumstances. His disciple, Martin Luther King, was not a cowardly non-resister of evil; he was a non-violent resister because he believed that, in the end, more would be achieved by appealing to his foes' better nature than by trying to kill them.
The inspiring example of Nelson Mandela should make us very sceptical indeed about the efficacy of violence over what Gandhi called satyagraha (truth force).
What right-thinking person, observing the tragedy of the Middle East, does not think that the worst enemies of the Palestinians are not the Israelis, but Hamas and Hezbollah? Did ever a people stand in such dire need of a Gandhi or Mandela as the Palestinians do?
A catastrophic war was fought against Hitler. But you would be hard-pressed to name a single bellicose general who made as much difference as Georg Duckwitz, whose philosophy seems to have been, "Try to do good. And, if you can't do good, then at least don't do bad".
Martin Luther King once said: "The end is pre-existent in the means." When Messrs Bush, Kelly, and John Howard have had their great military adventure, the number of terrorists in the world will have increased, not decreased. Pacifists are pessimists where violence is concerned.
(some taken from www.michaelmoore.com - this man is wonderful... a champion of free speech in the media.. i hope he won't mind me disseminating his message)
So why can't we criticise the American stand?
What happens when no one in the popular media is allowed to speak up against the US government?
Who wants war? Why don't we cut our losses and make peace?
"Playing the world's policeman is not the answer to that catastrophe in New York. Playing the world's policeman is what led to it"
So many wonderful links - this page is great
Here's what Michael Moore has to say:
A few of you have written me to say, Please, Mike, don't talk about this stuff, at least not right now. We need to bury the dead.
I agree. And I apologize to any who have taken offense. No one wants to talk about politics right now -- except our installed leaders in Washington.
Trust me, they are talking politics night and day, and those discussions involve sending our kids off to fight some invisible enemy and to indiscriminately bomb Afghans or whoever they think will make us Americans feel good.
I feel I have a responsibility as one of those Americans who doesn't feel good right now to speak out and say what needs to be said: That we, the United States of America, are culpable in committing so many acts of terror and bloodshed that we had better get a clue about the culture of violence in which we have been active participants. I know it's a hard thing to hear right now, but if I and others don't say it, I fear we will soon be in a war that will do NOTHING to protect us from the next terrorist attack.
A wonderfully salient argument from Elya Tagar:
(taken from www.theage.com.au)
Like many people I have spoken to over the last few weeks, in Australia and overseas, I think the elimination of poverty is a far cheaper, more certain and more humane way to eliminate terrorism. Without knowing the figures, I am certain that with 10 per cent of expected military expenditure, every Afghani could be fed, clothed and educated.
To eliminate terrorism one must address the root causes of unhappiness and hatred, as well as the hothouse for breeding hatred that poverty, dislocation, and lack of dignity create. By supporting societies and economies to the point of relative prosperity, equity and dignity, populations have much more to loose by supporting terrorism than they have to gain. No amount of external ammunition dumping will eliminate terrorism as effectively as local populations committed to peace.
Give people dignity, give them hope, give them a future to look forward to, and they will not support terrorism. Bomb them in revenge, threaten them, humiliate their national pride, and you will very effectively breed the next generation of terrorists happy to die with a crushing plane in the name of religion, in revenge for lost dignity and in revenge of dead brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers.
This is happening in Israel, my country of origin, where third generation babies are born in permanent refugee camps without a passport, without a home, with very little to look forward to. Almost every child in those refugee camps have the reason, in the form of a wounded, killed or imprisoned relative or friend, to hate. This is happening in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan and many other countries in the region.
The war to end all terrorism will end like the war that was to end all wars. Unfortunately, eighty years on, our leaders haven't caught on.
| Transcript of interview with Osama bin Laden
Taken from www.theage.com.au (important points in bold):
Text of Bin Laden's statement
Monday 8 October 2001
The remarks refer to the September 11 terror attacks on New York and Washington, but appear to have been made before today's strikes.
"I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger.
There is America, hit by God in one of its softest spots. Its greatest buildings were destroyed, thank God for that. There is America, full of fear from its north to its south, from its west to its east. Thank God for that.
What America is tasting now, is something insignificant compared to what we have tasted for scores of years. Our nation (the Islamic world) has been tasting this humiliation and this degradation for more than 80 years. Its sons are killed, its blood is shed, its sanctuaries are attacked, and no one hears and no one heeds.
When God blessed one of the groups of Islam, vanguards of Islam, they destroyed America. I pray to God to elevate their status and bless them.
Millions of innocent children are being killed as I speak. They are being killed in Iraq without committing any sins and we don't hear condemnation or a fatwa from the rulers. In these days, Israeli tanks infest Palestine in Jenin, Ramallah, Rafah, Beit Jalla, and other places in the land of Islam, and we don't hear anyone raising his voice or moving a limb.
When the sword comes down (on America), after 80 years, hypocrisy rears its ugly head. They deplore and they lament for those killers, who have abused the blood, honour, and sanctuaries of Muslims. The least that can be said about those people, is that they are debauched. They have followed injustice. They supported the butcher over the victim, the oppressor over the innocent child. May God show them His wrath and give them what they deserve.
I say that the situation is clear and obvious. After this event, after the senior officials have spoken in America, starting with the head of infidels worldwide, Bush, and those with him. They have come out in force with their men and have turned even the countries that belong to Islam to this treachery, and they want to wag their tail at God, to fight Islam, to suppress people in the name of terrorism.
When people at the ends of the earth, Japan, were killed by their hundreds of thousands, young and old, it was not considered a war crime, it is something that has justification. Millions of children in Iraq, is something that has justification. But when they lose dozens of people in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam (capitals of Kenya and Tanzania, where US embassies were bombed in 1998), Iraq was struck and Afghanistan was struck. Hypocrisy stood in force behind the head of infidels worldwide, behind the cowards of this age, America and those who are with it.
These events have divided the whole world into two sides. The side of believers and the side of infidels, may God keep you away from them. Every Muslim has to rush to make his religion victorious. The winds of faith have come. The winds of change have come to eradicate oppression from the island of Muhammad, peace be upon him.
To America, I say only a few words to it and its people. I swear by God, who has elevated the skies without pillars, neither America nor the people who live in it will dream of security before we live it in Palestine, and not before all the infidel armies leave the land of Muhammad, peace by upon him.
God is great, may pride be with Islam. May peace and God's mercy be upon you."