Saturday, December 17, 2005

Judgement and judgement

This morning, I had the opportunity to see the film "Judgment at Nuremberg" again. The Abby Mann screenplay had great resonance when it was written in 1961. It wasn't just a story about German jurists, who sold out to the Nazis. It was also a story about Cold War abridgements of the rights of Americans. It was a cautionary tale about the destruction of the rule of law by those sworn to uphold the law. With yesterday's revelations about the secret presidential approval of government spying on Americans combined with the Bush Administration's insistence that the only way to save our country is to abandon the Constitution, this speech from the movie seems to have more to do with the events of today than with those of sixty years ago.

"There are those in our own country, too. Who today speak of the protection of country. Of survival.

A decision must be made in the life of every nation, at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat.

Then it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy. To rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way.

The answer to that is: Survival as what?

A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self.

It's what it stands for.

It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult."

George Bush has turned the criminal act of a small number of fanatics into a rationale for the destruction of the only thing that distinguished the United States from any other nation on earth - our naive belief that we were a country based upon basic human (some would call them inalienable) rights.