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June 17, 2007

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my god what a great story of courage and

what a parable for our present circumstances.

the weblog word represents some of the same sentiments and concerns that hans and sophie acted on,

but of course

with nowhere near the personal physical danger those two experienced.


unless, of course, we decide to go into the streets of washington.

Sophie deserves the 'Blue Max' for true heroism!

I really recommend the film. I had read about them in something in German class in the '60s. My partner and I started talking about resistance to oppressive government and I remembered them, and got the film frlom Netflix. It is sad, of course, because of the lives cut short (though over 60 million lost their lives in WWII), but it is so inspiring and from what I have read, as close to what happened as a film could be.

Earlier I wrote about Philip Zimbardo's book "The Lucifer Effect" and how easy it is for people to just go along with something even though they suspect it is wrong. These folks are a real exemplar of the oppopsite, the people who have such integrity that when faced with injustice, they do whatever they can, even though all they are doing is "causing cracks in the edifice of the existing order."

Not to belabor the parallels, but an unwillingness to fully acknowledge ones actions and accept the consequences really robs an act of any meaning. That is why Libby and his acolytes seem like such hollow people.

Wonderful story Mimikatz. And it does resonate today. Where were the Scholls of the Democratic caucus in the Senate and House? The second they lost the cover of Clinton, they pretty much disappeared altogether. Save for Feingold, Kennedy and Barney Frank, who made any significant noise? They were getting the crap kicked out of them anyway by the Republicans, even when they meekly went along, so why not at least make a racket? It is simply mind blowing. Thanks again for the story of the Scholls.

Minikatz,

you say that
"While Scooter Libby continues to express no sense of responsibility for his actions and his claque demonstrates the cowardice of their convictions,..."

How is it cowardice when they stand up for what they believe?
You may disagree with them, but by what convoluted logic can you call them cowards?

There is a great German film, made a few years ago, called, "Downfall." It's about the last few weeks of the war in Hitler's bunker beneath the Chancellery building. Told from the point of view of Hitler's young secretary, Traudel Junge, it's historically accurate, and in showing the lies and delusions of victory to which the Hitlerites still clung as Soviet tanks rolled within blocks of the bunker, Downfall gives the feel for what it must be like, right now, at the White House.

In any event, at the end of the movie, they interview Traudel Junge, now a very old woman. She relates that for years after the war, as the atrocities of the Nazi regime became widely known, she told herself that she, a young secretary, could've done nothing and that she personally had no responsibility for what Hitler did.

But then, she said, she heard about Sophie Scholl, just about the same age as herself, and what the White Rose had done. Traudel Junge said that at that point she had to accept that she herself was, to a certain extent, responsible for what Hitler did because she could've acted against Naziism as Sophie Scholl had.

That's an uncomfortable yardstick. To what extent must all of us act against our government to avoid moral responsibility for our its crimes? In America we don't now face the guillotine, as Sophie Scholl did. But perhaps that means we must do more.

Hi Mimikatz,

Thanks for reminding us of the many brave people like Sophie who, even in the face of death, stand up for that in which they believe.

There are no profiles in courage in the Senate or the House today. Where are the Sophie's in government? Where are they in the media? Where are they in business? Where are they on the college campuses? Where are they in the small towns of Middle America?

In Middle America, even among Republicans, you hear the expressed desires of the people, their wish that this whole "national nightmare" be over. But what they really mean is that the natural political end of the Bush Administration can't come too soon for them. I suppose this is a wonder given the attention span of the American public and their endless patience with a President they knew was deeply and profoundly wrong on so many issues. A short attention span and seemingly endless political patience coupled with a desire to not rock the boat has brought our beloved representative form of democracy perilously close to the breaking point. Will American represenative democracy ever be the same again?

Mimikatz
Thanks for sharing this. The film was important to my grandmother. As a young girl, she had won the Germany national song fest. When Hitler came to her town to speak, she and her family protested. Hitler wanted her to sing before he gave his speech and she refused. Then when Hitler went to speak to the crowd, her father and brothers and members of their church had been involved in cutting the wires from the speakers to Hitler's microphone. No one could hear him. Hitler was insane with anger. My grandmother's oldest brother was killed by the Nazi's because of these acts of protest. My grandmother, in the end, fled to the US with her younger brother.

More profiles of courage please. Thanks.

Jodi--Here's why I think they are cowards. Short version: they neither "stand up for what they believe" or accept responsibility.

(1) Libby and his bosses lied to the American people about Iraq's WMD and about Saddam's connection to al Qaeda and 9/11 to get support for the war, and Cheney in particular still pretends that there was such a connection.

If they had the courage of their convictions they would have said, "we need this war to secure oil supplies to maintain our (extravagant) way of life and imperial ambitions. Saddam is at most a regional threat, but we can't control him. We also feel he is a threat to Israel. Therefore he has to go so we can put bases in a critical middle east country and satisfy the Saudis who want our bases out of their country." But they didn't--they lied and obfuscated about the real reasons for war and sent people like your brother to fight it while their children lived the good life.

(2) If they had the courage of their convictions they would stop making excuses and admit what it was that Libby did--disclose the identity of a covert CIA agent (and the CIA has made it clear in court filings that she was covert) when Cheney, as EW has pointed out, and most likely Libby too, had to know she was covert, all in order to discredit her husband and his criticisms of them, and perhaps her too, and then deliberately lie to FBI agents and the Grand Jury about what he did.

If they had the courage of their convictions they would have said "Yes. we lied, but we felt that our own survival and the success of our Iraq invasion were so important that it was worth risking the identity of a covert agent and the lives of those she may have dealt with over her career. Because it was so important, I am willing to spend 30 months in prison and refuse to divulge anything else I know about who else was involved."

Instead, they keep repeating their lies about the war and maintain that Libby "really didn't do anything wrong."

But he did. He lied about the war and lied about disclosing Valerie Plame Wilson's identity, and his apologists lie about how he lied to investigators and the Grand Jury.

Watch the movie. The Scholls and their friend died four days after their arrest. At a show trial Sophie and her brother, before a crazed Nazi judge and a room full of military and Gestapo people, both admitted what they did (merely print and distribute leaflets critical of the government), explained why it should be a right of all civilized people to criticize their government, and they denounced Hitler and his party at their trial. They did so even though they knew it meant death, and after interrogator had offered to help Sophie get lieniency.

That is real courage.

Mimikatz:

Thank you for addressing the subject of courage - I studied in Germany befopre law school, and my hope is that following the Bushco madness, there will be the same discussion of collective responsibility as was very prevalent in Germany in the 1980s when I was there. There is a wide spectrum of resistance available to individuals, from standing up to bullies to risking one's life to battle oppression, ranging from the overt heroism of a Raoul Wallenberg or Sophie Scholl, to the "everyday resistance" described by the historian Detlev Peukert in his examination of the Gestapo files of the period, showing civil disobedience and apathy to offical Nazi programs. For an examination of the German Resistance, I would recommend the 1992 film by Hava Kohav Beller, The Restless Conscience, and for inspiring stories of personal courage, Martin Gilbert's The Righteous - The Unsung Heroes of the Holocaust. In addition to the inspiring acts of the White Rose movement, the Rosenstrasse Protest also deserves attention - this was a protest in 1943 by the non-Jewish wives of 1500 Jewish men who were to be sent to Auschwitz. Before the deportation, thousands of women protested peacefully in the streets for a week - Goebbels and Himmler, who were in administrative control of Berlin as Gauleiters, were nervous of the political backlash that would result from the SS shooting the women, and released the men, most of whom survived the war despite the very public protests. This has also been made into a film, Rosenstrasse, by Margarethe von Trotta. On the monument to the Rosenstrasse protesters is the following:

"The strength of civil disobedience, the vigor of love overcomes the violence of dictatorship; Give us our men back; Women were standing here, defeating death; Jewish men were free."

Thanks, Ishmael. Women bearing witness are a great force. It reminds me of the Mothers of the Plaza del Mayo in Argentina.

It is a very rare person who can stand up to authority based only on their own conscience. But as Solomon Asch's later experiments found, with a confederate, more people can find the strength. For those of us without courage at Sophie's level, reminding others that they are not alone in believing their government has lost its senses and its morals is the least we can do.

Mimikatz,

Thank you for this reminder that true courage doesn't require taking up arms but it does require loving others as ourselves.

Ishmael,

I had not heard of the Rosenstrasse protest. Thanks for that. I believe I'll use "the vigor of love overcomes the violence of dictatorship" as my new email tagline.

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