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Saturday, October 5, 2013

Good Germans

    

         If I lived in Washington, DC, I’d probably be in jail by now. Or done my best to start a revolution. Or both. I do know I’d be down at the World War II memorial with a pair of wire cutters, snapping the wires that hold the barricades together. Barricades. Steel fences. Set up around a great plaza of pillars and plaques that never closes. That has no doors or walls or gates. That’s normally open to anyone who wishes to walk through and remember what it took to conquer Hitler and Mussolini and Hirohito. To empty the concentration camps and bring the perpetrators to justice.
      But now, as schoolchildren arrive to learn their heritage, and men in wheelchairs, the ones who did the conquering, who took Pacific islands inch by inch and freed the captives one by one, approach the monument to the struggle of their youth, they are told, “Sorry, closed. You can’t come in.” To them, I would say, “You are not to be kept out,” and I would cut the wires and drag the barriers aside. Maybe someone would help me. I’m 63. I’m a grandmother. I have arthritis. But I know capricious tyranny when I see it, and I hope I would give every ounce of strength to tear down its work.
     People whose pay comes from taxes on their fellow citizens set up those barricades. Across the country, they blocked parking lots and streets and ocean fishing grounds. They even placed traffic cones on Dakota roads to prevent anyone’s stopping to gaze at Mt. Rushmore. They have to know this is wrong. “Lack of funds. We have to shut down,” says the Obama administration. And they assign extra staff, extra work, extra equipment to keep the American people from their birthright. “We’ll allot money for the parks,” says the House. “No,” says the executive, “not without imposing our insurance-purchasing scheme on the people, whether they want it or not.”
     So, to the rangers and police officers, I would say, “Please do not be good Germans.” Do not cooperate in assaulting the freedoms of your fellow citizens. Your conscience must at least whisper that this is wrong, as it did for many ordinary people in Germany some 80 years ago. “You may be asked to do things you think are wrong,” they were told, “but there is a higher purpose for these actions. The Fuehrer knows best. You must obey him for the good of the Fatherland.” They did the little things. Then they were asked to do bigger things. Terrible things. If only they had said no in the first place.  

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