~Dr. Miles Bennell, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers
At the end of WW II, an American soldier stumbled into a bunker in Berlin where he found Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and a lawyer. He only had two bullets; which two of the three tyrants did he shoot?
Answer: None, he shot the lawyer twice.
Is it just a bad joke or does it tell us something important about our society?
In my last article, The Hope, I took some pains to compare the current crisis in human society with the crises that arose during the time of the Inquisition and Nazi Germany. One of the symptoms of such a human crisis is a certain hystericization of society that was exemplified in the article, Passengers May Be Sued in Imams’ Removal. The article was so full of conversive thinking and paramoralisms that it should shock anyone who reads it; but of course, I realize that this is hardly likely to be the case. As Andrew Lobaczewski wrote:
Egotistic thought-terrorization is accomplished by the society itself and its processes of conversive thinking. This obviates the need for censorship of the press, theater, or broadcasting, as a pathologically hypersensitive censor lives within the citizens themselves. [Andrew Lobaczewski, Political Ponerology]
Today, I would like to look at the same problem from a slightly different angle – the legal profession and how it supports fascism. Recall from the article about the Imams the following remarks:
Six Muslim men removed from a plane last fall after being accused of suspicious behavior are suing the airline and threatening to sue the passengers who complained – a move some fear could discourage travelers from speaking up when they see something unusual.
The civil rights lawsuit, filed earlier this month, has so alarmed some lawyers that they are offering to defend the unnamed “John Doe” passengers listed as “possible defendants” free of charge. They say it is vital that the flying public be able to report suspicious behavior without fear of being dragged into court. […]
Some fear such lawsuits could weaken what has become the first line of defense against terrorism since Sept. 11 – an alert public. […]
In reaction to the imams’ lawsuit, Congress has taken steps to legally protect passengers who report suspicious activity. Earlier this week, the House approved an amendment to a rail transportation security bill that would make passengers immune from such lawsuits, unless they say something they know is false.
Wow! What kind of attorney would be so alarmed about a lawsuit to defend the rights of a group of people that are currently targets of extreme vilification exactly as the Jews were in Germany prior to WW II that they would offer to defend the perpetrators of vicious slander? Just substitute the word “Jews” for “Imams” or “Muslims” and you wouldn’t know that you weren’t reading an old report from Nazi Germany. What is important to note is that members of the legal profession – and the law-making body itself – have become so pathologically hypersensitive that it works pro-actively to create the framework in which Fascism can grow and flourish.
This is not a good sign; it betokens evil, bloody times ahead for everyone.
But the legal profession, like every other, has a percentage of decent, thinking members who are not so easily taken over by Thought Terrorization and societal hystericization. Consider Elizabeth de la Vega who recently wrote about Karl Rove’s Danse Macabre:
Last week, Americans with access to YouTube were subjected to a once-in-a-lifetime performance by President Bush’s senior political adviser Karl Rove. At least, I fervently hope that this event will only happen once in our lifetimes. Watching Rove, at theWhite House Correspondents’ Dinner, bobbing and weaving awkwardly in a pathetic parody of a rapper was painful. However, more excruciating than his routine — “MC Rove: Doin’ the Dance, the Karl Rove Dance” to lyrics supplied by comedian Brad Sherwood — was the sight of the members of our so-called independent Washington press corps laughing amiably at the antics of a senior presidential aide whose conduct is so universally considered despicable that no one even flinches at ill-timed lines like: “Don’t get the jitters/but MC Rove tears the head off of critters.”
That scene was the stuff of nightmares.
Rove’s rap performance was disturbing, yes; but, in the end, it was also relatively brief and harmless. The same cannot be said of the danse macabre he has been directing since the Bush administration took over the White House. […]
Karl Rove has, for years, been choreographing an elaborate dance of death for the federal government designed to give life to the Republican Party, and yet the public remains largely ignorant of his activities because he so rarely takes the stage. That honor is reserved for an apparently infinite supply of young Republicans eager to dance their little hearts out for a chance to get plum appointments. In other words, the prerequisite for the success of the Bush administration’s extravaganza — whether in Washington, Iraq, or elsewhere — has been a chorus line of “loyal Bushies.”
Of course, the term “loyal Bushie” requires no definition, but one has recently been supplied by Kyle Sampson, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’s former deputy chief of staff. Undoubtedly to his everlasting regret, Sampson, who resigned just prior to his testimony last week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, used this term to describe those United States Attorneys who should be retained by the White House because they had “managed well and exhibited loyalty to the president and attorney general.” Those who “chafed against administration initiatives” were recommended for removal, according to Sampson; while the rest of the lot, including U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois and Special Counsel Patrick Fitzgerald, were unranked.
I spent last Thursday watching Sampson testify about the White House choreographed firings of seven U.S. Attorneys who were chafers. I was compelled to watch, even though, having worked for more than 21 years as an Assistant United States Attorney myself, I considered the revelation of this latest outrage to be the least horrific of a long string of horrors carried out by the Bush administration in the name of the Department of Justice for the advancement of the Republican Party.
To satisfy the tobacco lobby, for instance, President Bush’s Department of Justice (DOJ) appointees gutted the most significant case ever brought against the giant tobacco companies. To assuage the Republican base, Bush’s DOJ brought an unprecedented number of civil rights cases on behalf of non-minorities, while drastically limiting its traditional affirmative-action lawsuits. In order to portray themselves as representatives of the party most likely to make the American people feel safe — a cherished nugget of political wisdom from Karl Rove’s constant polling activities — Bush’s Attorneys General have sanctioned, caused to be carried out, and/or turned a blind eye to the use of illegal spying on citizens, illegal detentions at Guantanamo and elsewhere, kidnappings and “extraordinary renditions” to countries which the State Department has classified as the most egregious of human rights violators and, worst of all, administration-sanctioned acts of torture.
It is these activities that, to adopt the words of a fellow former Assistant United States Attorney and lifelong Republican, “turn my stomach.” […]
‘Main Justice’, as the DOJ’s Washington, D. C. office is called, is well-staffed with “loyal Bushies” who will apparently carry out any tasks assigned, regardless of how unethical, illegal, or immoral they may be. The President is now trying to staff the U.S. Attorney’s Offices throughout the country with the same feckless loyalists. If he is allowed to proceed unimpeded, those offices too will be run by United States Attorneys “Doin’ the Karl Rove Dance.”
“Defying Hitler” is a memoir by the late German historian Raimund Pretzel. In 1938 he escaped Nazi Germany with his Jewish fiancée and went to London, where he adopted the pseudonym Sebastian Haffner so that his family, who remained in Germany, would not be endangered by his writing. Haffner was what the Nazis classified as Aryan, but he was also a non-Nazi who despised the Fascist regime.
Haffner began this little memoir in 1939, close to the time of the events it describes. It was never finished and was only discovered following Haffner’s death in 1999, by his son Oliver Pretzel, who found it while going through his father’s papers. In his introduction, Pretzel says that his father would have been embarrassed by the book because it was not his usual cool and concise historical style but rather raw and emotional. But it is that raw emotional power that comes from so recently having escaped the danger that gives this book something really special.
As it happens, Haffner was trained in the legal profession and he wrote a short passage in the book about his observations of what took place within the law courts after the Nazis came to power. I think that you will find this excerpt to be extremely enlightening in view of the article about the Imams tossed off the plane as well as De La Vegas’ comments about Karl Rove and the Purge of the Prosecutors:
I had studied law and become a Referendar. …[As a Referendar, he participates in the work of the courts or the civil service like a judge or administrator]… In two of the courts where I worked, the judge even let me run the proceedings. This sudden power has a profound effect on a young man… and it inevitably influences him deeply. It had two principal effects on me. The first was composure, an attitude of cool, calm, benevolent dryness… The second was a certain facility in following official thought processes and legal abstractions. …[T]he second facility was literally to save the life of my wife, and my own a few years later. …
Apart from that, I can only smile ruefully when I consider how prepared I was for the adventure that awaited me. I was not prepared at all. I had no skills in boxing or ju-jitsu, not to mention smuggling, crossing borders illegally, using secret codes and so on: skills that would have stood me in good stead in the coming years. My spiritual preparation for what was ahead was almost equally inadequate. Is it not said that in peacetime the chiefs of staff always prepare their armies as well as possible – for the previous war? I cannot judge the truth of that, but it is certainly true that conscientious parents always educate their sons for the era that is just over. I had all the intellectual endowments to play a decent part in the bourgeois world of the period before 1914. I had an uneasy feeling, based on what I had experienced, that it would not be much help to me. That was all. At best I smelled a warning whiff of what was about to confront me, but I did not have an intellectual system that would help me deal with it.
True, that was not just my situation but that of my whole generation, and even more the situation of the older generation. (It is still the situation of most foreigners, who only know about Nazism from the newspapers and newsreels.) Our thinking is usually constrained by a certain civilisation in our outlook, in which the basics are unquestioned – and so implicit that they are almost forgotten. When we argued about certain opposites – freedom and slavery, for example, or nationalism and humanism, or individualsim and socialism – the discussion always respected certain Christian, humanistic, civilised principles as axiomatic. Even some of those who became Nazis at this time did not fully realise what they were doing. They might think that they stood for nationalism and socialism, were against the Jews and for the pre-1914-18 status quo… Still, they expected all that to take the humane forms usual in a civilised nation. Most of them would have been deeply shocked if one had suggested that what they really stood for were torture chambers and officially decreed pogroms (to name but two of the most obvious things, and these are certainly not yet the final horrific culmination). Even today there are Nazis who are shocked and alarmed if this is pointed out to them.
At that time I had no strong political views. I even found it difficult to decide whether I was “right” or “left”, to use the most general political categories. … None of the existing political parties seems particularly attractive to me, despite the abundant choice. Anyway, belonging to any of them would not have saved me from becoming a Nazi…
What saved me was – my nose. I have a fairly well-developed figurative sense of smell, or to put it differently, a sense of the worth (or worthlessness!) of human, moral, political views and attitudes. Most Germans unfortunately lack this sense almost completely. The cleverest of them are capable of discussing themselves stupid with their abstractions and deductions, when just using their noses would tell them that something stinks. …
As for the Nazis, my nose left me with no doubts. It was just tiresome to talk about which of their alleged goals and intentions were still acceptable, or even “historically justified” when all of it stank. How it stank! That the Nazis were enemies, my enemies, and the enemies of all I held dear, was crystal clear to me from the outset. What was not at all clear to me, was what terrible enemies they would turn out to be. I was inclined not to take them very seriously – a common attitude among their inexperienced opponents, which helped them a lot, and still helps them.
There are few things as comic as the calm, superior indifference with which I and those like me watched the beginnings of the Nazi revolution in Germany, as if from a box at the theatre. It was, after all, a movement with the declared intention of doing away with us. Perhaps the only comparably comic thing is the way that now, years later, Europe is permitting itself exactly the same indifferent attitude, as though it were a superior, amused onlooker, while the Nazis are already setting it alight at all four corners…. […]
At the end of March the Nazis felt strong enough to initiate the first act of their real revolution, a revolution not against some constitution or other, but against the basis of human society on earth, a revolution that, if nothing is done, will stop at nothing.
The first diffident move was the boycott of the Jews on the 1st of April 1933. It had been thought up by Hitler and Goebbels over tea and biscuits at the Obersalzberg in Bavaria the Sunday before. On Monday the papers carried the peculiarly ironic headlines, ‘Mass Demonstrations Announced‘. From Saturday the 1st of April, they said, all Jewish shops would be boycotted. SA troops would stand guard in front of them and prevent anyone from going in. All Jewish doctors and lawyers were also to be boycotted. SA patrols would check their consulting rooms to ensure that the ruling was obeyed.
One could see the advances that the Nazis had made in just one month by considering the justification for the boycott. The myth of a Communist coup that had been used to override the constitution and remove civil liberties had been carefully and plausibly constructed. They had even felt the need to supply some direct evidence in the form of the Reichstag fire. The justification for this new affront was a barefaced insult and mockery of those who were expected to act as though they believed it. The boycott was to be carried out as a defence and reaction against the totally unfounded horror stories about the new Germany that the German Jews were alleged to have cleverly spread abroad. Yes, just so.
Further measures were added in the next few days (some of them later temporarily rescinded). All ‘Aryan’ shops had to sack their Jewish employees. Then all Jewish shops had to do so too. Jewish shops had to pay their ‘Aryan’ employees in full during the period they were closed by the boycott. Jewish owners had to withdraw from their businesses and install ‘Aryan’ managers. And so on.
At the same time a great ‘education campaign’ against the Jews was set in motion. The Germans were informed through pamphlets, posters and meetings that it had been a mistake to consider the Jews as human beings. In reality they were a kind of ‘subhuman’ animal, but with the characteristics of a devil. The consequences that would be drawn from this were not spelt out for the moment. Still, the campaign slogan was given out as ‘Juda verrecke’ (Perish Judah). A man who had hitherto been unknown to most Germans was appointed as leader of the boycott: Julius Streicher.
All this aroused in the German people something one might not have expected after the previous four weeks: widespread alarm. A murmur of dissent, suppressed but audible, spread through the land. The Nazis sensed that they had gone too far for the moment, and withdrew some of their measures after the 1st of April. Not, however, without first allowing these to unleash the full force of their terror. By now everyone knows to what extent the Nazis have changed their true intentions.
Apart from-the terror, the unsettling and depressing aspect of this first murderous declaration of intent was that it triggered off a flood of argument and discussions all over Germany, not about anti-Semitism but about the ‘Jewish question’. This is a trick the Nazis have since successfully repeated many times on other ‘questions’ and in international affairs. By publicly threatening a person, an ethnic group, a nation, or a region, with death and destruction, they provoke a general discussion not about their own existence, but about the right of their victims to exist. In this way that right is put in question.
Suddenly everyone felt justified, and indeed required, to have an opinion about the Jews, and to state it publicly. Distinctions were made between ‘decent’ Jews and the others. If-some pointed to the achievements of Jewish scientists, artists and doctors to justify the Jews ( justify? what for? against what?), others would counter that they were a detrimental ‘foreign influence’ in these spheres. Indeed, it soon became customary to count it against the Jews if they had a respectable or intellectually valuable profession. This was treated as a crime or, at the very least, a lack of tact. The defenders of the Jews were frowningly told that it was reprehensible of the Jews to have such-and-such a percentage of doctors, lawyers, journalists, etc. Indeed, per cent calculations were a popular ingredient of the ‘Jewish question’. People discussed whether the percentage of Jews among the members of the Communist Party was not too high, and among the casualties of the Great War perhaps too low. (This is the literal truth. I heard this argument in the mouth of an educated man with a Ph.D., who reckoned himself a member of the cultured class. He argued quite seriously that the 12,000 Jewish dead in the Great War was too small a proportion of the Jewish population in comparison with the corresponding number of ‘Aryans’ killed, and derived from this a certain justification for Nazi anti-Semitism.)
Today it is quite clear that Nazi anti-Semitism has nothing to do with the virtues or vices of the Jews. The interesting thing about the Nazis’ intention to train the Germans to be persecutors of the Jews throughout the world, and if possible exterminate them, an intention they made no secret of, is not the justification they give. That is such utter nonsense that it is demeaning even to take it seriously enough to argue against it. It is the intention itself that is significant. It is something new in the history of the world: an attempt to deny humans the solidarity of every species that enables it to survive; to turn human predatory instincts, that are normally directed against animals, against members of their own species, and to make a whole nation into a pack of hunting hounds. Once the violence and readiness to kill that lies beneath the surface of human nature has been awakened and turned against other humans, and even made into a duty, it is a simple matter to change the target. That can be clearly seen today; instead of ‘Jews’, one can just as easily say ‘Czechs’ or ‘Poles’ or anyone else.
We have here the systematic infection of a whole nation, Germany, with a germ that causes its people to treat their victims like wolves; or, to put it differently, the freeing and revitalisation of precisely those sadistic instincts whose chaining and restraint has been the work of a thousand years of civilisation. In a later chapter I intend to show how, in spite of its general weakness and dishonour, large parts of the German nation still find the strength to resist, perhaps from a dark feeling for what is at issue. Were it different, and should the central core of the Nazis’ programme become a reality, it would amount to a major crisis for humanity, and would place the survival of the species Homo sapiens at risk. It might only be possible to save the species by destroying the part infected by the ‘wolf virus’ completely.
This brief discourse shows that it is precisely the Nazis’ anti-Semitism that raises the most basic questions of existence, not just for the Jews. That is not true to the same extent of any of their other election pledges. It shows how ridiculous the attitude is, still found widely in Germany, that the anti-Semitism of the Nazis is a small side issue, at worst a minor blemish on the movement, which one can regret or accept, according to one’s personal feelings fol the Jews, and of ‘little significance compared to the great national issues’. In reality these ‘great national issues’ are unimportant day-to-day matters, the ephemeral business of a transitional period in European history – while the Nazis’ anti-Semitism is a fundamental danger and raises the spectre of the downfall of humanity.
Again, these are all things that nobody saw with any clarity in March 1933. In this case, however, I can pride myself in having had a sense of what was in the air. I felt distinctly that what had happened so far was merely disgusting and no more. But what was in the offing had something apocalyptic about it. In rarely visited corners of my mind I felt that we were facing ultimate questions, though I did not yet know quite what they were. […]
Friday the 3ist of March. Tomorrow things would get serious. I still could not quite believe it. I scanned the papers, looking for signs of any mitigation, perhaps some movement towards a more reasonable, acceptable position. There was nothing. Just the intensification of some measure or other and pedantic instructions about the details of the action and the manner in which it was to be executed. Otherwise it was business as usual. Looking at the steady bustle and traffic on the streets, one had no sense that anything special was about to take place. Jewish shops were still open and trading as usual. Today one was still permitted to shop there. It would not be prohibited until tomorrow, at 8 a.m. precisely.
I went to the Kammergericht (the court). It stood there, cool and grey as always, set back from the street in a distinguished setting of lawns and trees. Its halls were filled with the hushed fluttering of barristers in their bat-like, black silk gowns, carrying briefcases under their arms, with concentrated, serious expressions on their faces. Jewish barristers were pleading in court as though this were a day like any other.
Not being due in court, I went to the library (as though this were a day like any other), settled down at one of the long work tables, and started reading a document about which I had to give an opinion. Some complicated affair with intricate points of law. I carried the heavy legal tomes to my place and surrounded myself with them. I looked up decisions of the high courts of the Reich and made notes. As always, the high-ceilinged, spacious room was filled with the inaudible electricity of many minds hard at work. In making pencil marks on paper, I was setting the instruments of the law to work on the details of my case, summarising, comparing, weighing the importance of this or that word in a contract, investigating what bearing this or that clause would have on the matter, according to the precedents. When I scribbled a few words something happened, like the first cut in a surgical operation: a question was clarified, a component of a judicial decision put in place. Not the final decision, naturally: ‘It is thus irrelevant whether the plaintiff .. . so it remains to investigate whether …’ Careful, precise, silent work. Everybody in the room was similarly immersed in their own cases. Even the ushers, somewhere between beadles and policemen, moved more quietly here in the library, and seemed to try and make themselves invisible. The room was full of extreme silence, a silence filled with the high tension of deeply concentrated work. It was like a silent concert. I loved this atmosphere. At home I would have been unable to work today, here it was perfectly easy. Your thoughts just could not stray. It was like being in a fortress, or better, a test-tube. No breath came in from the outside world; here there was no revolution.
What was the first noticeable noise? A door banging? A distant sound like an order being given? Suddenly everybody raised their heads, and strained to hear what it was. The room was still utterly quiet: but the quality of the silence had changed. It was no longer the silence of concentrated work. It was filled with alarm and agitation. There was a clatter of footsteps outside in the corridor, the sound of rough boots on the stairs, then a distant indistinct din, shouts, doors banging. A few people got up and went to the door, looked out, and came back. One or two approached the ushers and spoke quietly with them – in here no one ever raised their voice. The noise from outside grew stronger. Somebody spoke into the silence: ‘SA.’ Then, not particularly loudly, somebody else said, ‘They’re throwing out the Jews,’ and a few others laughed. At that moment this laughter alarmed me more than what was actually happening. With a start I realised that there were Nazis working in this room. How strange.
Gradually the disturbance took shape – at first it had been intangible. Readers got up, tried to say something to one another, paced about slowly to no great purpose. One man, obviously a Jew, closed his books, packed his documents and left. Shortly afterwards somebody, perhaps a superintendent, appeared in the doorway and announced clearly but calmly, ‘The SA are in the building. The Jewish gentlemen would do well to leave.’ Almost at once we heard shouts from outside: ‘Out with the Jews!’ A voice answered, ‘They’ve already gone,’ and again I heard two or three merry giggles, just as before. I could see them now. They were Referendars just like me.
The premature end to the carnival ball four weeks ago came unpleasantly to mind. Things were breaking down now, as then. Several readers packed-their cases and left. I was reminded of the phrase, ‘You have permission to leave.’ Did they still have permission? Today it was no longer so certain. Others left their things on the tables and went out of the library to see what was going on. More than ever, the ushers tried to be invisible. Of those of us who stayed behind, one or two lit cigarettes – in the library of the Kammergericht! The ushers took no action. That itself was something of a revolution.
The scouts later explained what had happened in the main part of the building. No atrocities, why, certainly not! Everything went extremely smoothly. The courts had, for the most part, adjourned. The judges had removed their robes and left the building quietly and civilly, going down the staircase lined with SA men. The only place where there had been trouble was the barristers’ room. A Jewish barrister had ’caused a fuss’ and been beaten up. Later I heard who it was. He had been wounded five times in the last war, had lost an eye, and even been promoted to captain. It had probably been his misfortune that he still remembered the tone to use with mutineers.
In the meantime, the intruders had arrived at the library. The door was thrust open and a flood of brown uniforms surged in. In a booming voice, one of them, clearly the leader, shouted, ‘Non-Aryans must leave the premises immediately.’ It struck me that he used the careful expression ‘non-Aryans’, but also a rather colloquial expression for ‘premises’. Someone, probably the same person as before, answered, ‘They’ve already left.’ Our ushers stood there as though they were about to salute. My heart beat heavily. What should I do, how keep my poise? Just ignore them, do not let them disturb me. I put my head down over my work. I read a few sentences mechanically: ‘The defendant’s claim that . . . is untrue, but irrelevant . .’ Just take no notice!
Meanwhile a brown shirt approached me and took up position in front of my work table. ‘Are you Aryan?’ Before I had a chance to think, I had said, ‘Yes.’ He took a close look at my nose – and retired. The blood shot to my face. A moment too late I felt the shame, the defeat. I had said, ‘Yes’! Well, in God’s name, I was indeed an ‘Aryan’. I had not lied, I had allowed something much worse to happen. What a humiliation, to have answered the unjustified question as to whether I was ‘Aryan’ so easily, even if the fact was of no importance to me! What a disgrace to buy, with a reply, the right to stay with my documents in peace! I had been caught unawares, even now. I had failed my very first test. I could have slapped myself.
As I left the Kammergericht it stood there, grey, cool and calm as ever, set back from the street in its distinguished setting. There was nothing to show that, as an institution, it had just collapsed. There was also nothing about my appearance to show that I had just suffered a terrible reverse, a defeat that would be almost impossible to make good. A well-dressed young man walked down the Potsdamer Strasse. There was nothing untoward about the scene. Business as usual, but in the air the approaching thunder of events to come …
Everyday we are all faced with this same test: have we been infected by the “wolf germ,” as Haffner referred to it, psychopathy as Lobaczewski calls it, and made to turn against our fellow human beings? In the case of the Imams thrown off the plane, there were certainly some Nazis onboard that plane in the form of employees of the airline as well as the passengers and the lawyers who offer to defend their anti-Humanism for free. They have all been pathologized by the infection that could very well, as Haffner suggests, lead to the downfall of humanity. It is precisely the attitude exhibited by the employees and passengers of that plane – the blatant anti-Humanism – that raises the most basic question.
…should the central core of the Nazis’ programme become a reality, it would amount to a major crisis for humanity, and would place the survival of the species Homo sapiens at risk. It might only be possible to save the species by destroying the part infected by the ‘wolf virus’ completely.
And the core of the Nazis program has become a reality in our world. Make no mistake about it.
It is the intention itself that is significant. It is something new in the history of the world: an attempt to deny humans the solidarity of every species that enables it to survive; to turn human predatory instincts, that are normally directed against animals, against members of their own species, and to make a whole nation into a pack of hunting hounds. Once the violence and readiness to kill that lies beneath the surface of human nature has been awakened and turned against other humans, and even made into a duty, it is a simple matter to change the target. That can be clearly seen today; instead of ‘Jews’, one can just as easily say ‘Czechs’ or ‘Poles’ or anyone else.
It’s not really about Nazis vs. Jews or Christians or Muslims; it is about pathological deviants vs human beings with a potential conscience – even if that conscience is sound asleep in most people. Charles Taylor writes about Haffner in Salon:
…about two-thirds of the way through “Defying Hitler,” Haffner asks the reader why anyone should be interested in him, what possible significance his individual story could have given the magnitude of the events he’s describing. He imagines a typical reader’s reaction as “We should not be fobbed off with the private experiences of a young man who was not much better informed than we are, even if he was closer to the scene of these events and had no influence on them, who was not even a particularly well-placed witness.”
His answer is that “if you read ordinary history books … you get the impression that no more than a few dozen people are involved, who happen to be ‘at the helm of the ship of state’ and whose deeds and decisions form what is called history … We anonymous others seem at best to be the objects of history … who may be pushed forward or left standing, sacrificed or captured, but whose lives, for what they are worth, take place in a totally different world, unrelated to what is happening on the chessboard, of which they are quite unaware.”
By not limiting his definition of history to the stories of the powerful (who are often presumed to be the only ones to make it), Haffner is, I think, committing an act of resistance. It isn’t just that Haffner is acknowledging political and historical reality (“The most powerful dictators, ministers, and generals are powerless against the simultaneous mass decisions taken individually and almost unconsciously by the population at large”), but that he is insisting on the democratic idea that people are not merely “objects of history.” Writing in the midst of a crushing dictatorship, Haffner is saying that defiance can come even from an individual who simply refuses to accept the “truth” of the political rhetoric that is put before him.
Resistance is, of course, problematical in our present Human Crisis. I have never thought that the Abu Ghraib scandal was an embarrassment to the Bush Administration. I think it was deliberately leaked for the purpose of thought terrorization. It tells the public loud and clear what can – and WILL – happen to them if they resist, if they do not “get with the program.” Of course, the process of the Nazification of the U.S. is not going to follow the model of Germany exactly; I think the pathocrats learned something from the mistakes of that time. We do not yet have masses of people disappearing into concentration camps, but we most certainly have many examples being set for public consumption that demonstrate exactly how each tier of society is supposed to behave. At every tier, legal issues come into play and that is why the Purge of non-Bushie prosecutors can be equated to the purge of Jews from the legal system in Nazi Germany.
To see just how much like the Nazi legal system the U.S. courts has become, read how Josh Wolf ends record jail term for saying no to Pathocracy:
Tue, 03 Apr 2007
A reporter in California has been freed after serving 226 days – the longest jail time served in US history for failing to hand over information.
Joshua Wolf, 24, reached a deal with prosecutors by posting online the videotape of a street rally he had refused to give to authorities. The footage was of violent protests in San Francisco against a G-8 summit.
On 7 February, Wolf passed the 168 days Houston freelancer Vanessa Leggett served in 2001/02 on similar charges. Wolf had refused a subpoena to hand over the whole of his tape to police.
A police car was burned and an officer suffered a fractured skull in the violence against the summit which was being held in Scotland at the time. The video footage Wolf posted on Tuesday did not feature any criminal acts.
Wolf’s lawyer Martin Garbus said: “Josh has released the videotape on his website and a copy has been sent to the district attorney. He had refused to identify anyone in the videotape.”
On his website, Wolf says he repeatedly offered to allow a judge to view the unpublished footage but was refused.
“Today, you the public have the opportunity to be the judge and I am confident you will see, as I do, that there is nothing of value in this unpublished footage.”
Although Californian laws protect journalists from revealing material, prosecutors successfully argued federal money helped pay for the police car, thus making it a federal case.
Now notice this: it was a “federal case” even though the events took place in Scotland! But more importantly, note that Wolf repeatedly offered to allow the judge to view the tape but was REFUSED. Why? So he could remain in jail and send a message to any other journalist who might get the idea that refusing the party line was a good idea. Charles Taylor writes:
The question that always springs from accounts of Hitler’s Germany is “Why didn’t the Germans resist?” Some of the reasons have long been obvious. There is a natural human instinct for survival, however odious the forms it takes or the lengths it may go to. And there is also the understandable refusal to believe that the worst will come to pass. Again and again in “Defying Hitler” Haffner’s acquaintances talk of the Nazis as clowns who, because they cannot help revealing their true natures, are destined to fall out of power.
Haffner’s endorsement of the idea that even dictators are powerless without the consent (or at least the passivity) of the masses means that “Defying Hitler” has no time for quibbling about how much the Germans knew and when; he was there shortly before World War II broke out, after all. Haffner takes it for granted that Germans knew about the brutality of Nazi rule — brutality that, logically, would only increase as the state consolidated its power — and that they lacked the will to resist it. […]
It isn’t just the masses of people that lack the will to resist. When the democratic majority won in the US elections last November, I wrote an article entitled Post-Election Reality Check which said, in part:
So you think “the system worked”, democracy has won out, and that yesterday’s election is the first step to straightening out the mess Bush and the Neocons have made on the planet?
Think again. It’s not that “the system” didn’t work; it worked very well, but you have again been duped.
Nothing has changed. In fact, many of you have been put back to sleep by the staged Democratic victory which was set up just for that purpose; to make you think you still live in a democracy. The fact is, the Zionist halter is as firmly strapped on the head of American State policy as it ever was, and the American voter needs to realize that it is immaterial which party prevails at elections.
I received a lot of criticism for writing that especially since the “moveon.org” folks were busy exulting that all their hard work had “won the day,” or whatever. How dare I rain on their parade???
Well, I was right as we have had ample time to observe. The new Dem majority is all “a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more … a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” I don’t think I need to recount every single instance that the Dems have rolled over in the past few months to make the point, but there is one very recent event that should be interesting to watch just to see them roll over in unison and on cue:
05 April 2007
President Bush named Republican fundraiser Sam Fox as U.S. ambassador to Belgium on Wednesday, using a maneuver that allowed him to bypass Congress, where Democrats had derailed Fox’s nomination.
The appointment, made while lawmakers were out of town on spring break, prompted angry rebukes from Democrats, who said Bush’s action may even be illegal.
Democrats had denounced Fox for his donation to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth during the 2004 presidential campaign. The group’s TV ads, which claimed that Sen. John Kerry exaggerated his military record in Vietnam, were viewed as a major factor in the Massachusetts Democrat’s election loss.
Recognizing Fox did not have the votes to obtain Senate confirmation in the Foreign Relations Committee, Bush withdrew the nomination last week. On Wednesday, with the Senate on a one-week break, the president used his power to make recess appointments to put Fox in the job without Senate confirmation.
This means Fox can remain ambassador until the end of the next session of Congress, effectively through the end of the Bush presidency.
“It’s sad but not surprising that this White House would abuse the power of the presidency to reward a donor over the objections of the Senate,” Kerry said in a statement.
Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, said he plans to ask the Government Accountability Office to issue an opinion on whether the recess appointment is legal.
Recess appointments are intended to give the president flexibility if Congress is out for a lengthy period of time, such as the four-week adjournment in summer. But Dodd said the law was not intended to circumvent lawmakers’ approval.
“This is really now taking the recess appointment vehicle and abusing this beyond anyone’s imagination,” said Dodd, a candidate for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. “This is a travesty.”
Bush also used his recess appointment authority to make Andrew Biggs deputy director of Social Security. The president’s earlier nomination of Biggs, an outspoken advocate of partially privatizing the government’s retirement program, was rejected by Senate Democrats in February. […]
Yeah, we hear the Dems making noises about it, but don’t kid yourself. They have made noises about everything; it’s all show, sound and fury and absurdity. Just look at how Rush Limbaugh – who has a mainstream media spot despite his obvious pathology – dealt with the Dem protests about the appointment. He and Dick Cheney did their own little Vaudeville stand-up routine for the public:
RUSH: As mentioned and as promised, we welcome back to the EIB Microphone — it’s always a great privilege to have the vice president, Dick Cheney, with us. Mr. Vice President, welcome once again to our program.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Rush. It’s good to be back on.
RUSH: I can imagine. Now, let’s start talking about the supplemental funding bill for Iraq. I have to tell you something that I heard last night as I’m watching some of the cable news network shows. Some of the Democrats and Democrat commentators, are saying publicly now they expect that the president is eventually going to back off the veto threat because he will he will eventually realize that he cannot be seen as de-funding the troops.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: No, he has been very, very firm in his insistence, Rush, that if they send him a bill with limitations on his ability to function as commander-in-chief or restrictions on the troops or with a withdrawal date that in effect would tell our enemies we’re going to quit, he will veto it. He’s also said the same thing if the bills are loaded up with pork on non-essential spending. So he’s been very, very clear. No one should be mistaken about that.
RUSH: Where do you think this is going to go? The Democrats don’t seem to be in any hurry to have this go to conference, have a final bill voted upon, and then sent up to the White House for the veto. How long is this going to take, do you suspect?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I hope it only takes a couple of weeks. You know, they all took off for vacation as soon as they passed the bills, but so far the House hasn’t even appointed conferees, and they’re gonna be out next week as well, too. The Senate is coming back next week.
RUSH: You and the president both, have derided the theatrics of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi and a number of the Democrats, and I don’t know if you’re being politic with the statement because I, frankly, need to ask you if you really think it’s “theatrics” or is this who they really are? Is this what they really intend: to lose this war, to make sure we come home defeated?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think that the policies that they are recommending would in fact produce that result. I’ve got some friends on the other side of the aisle, and I don’t want to question everybody’s motives. I do believe that a significant portion of the Democrats — including, I think, Nancy Pelosi — are adamantly opposed to the war and prepared to pack it in and come home in defeat, rather than put in place or support a policy that will lead to victory.
RUSH: Do you understand that?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: That’s the fundamental difference.
RUSH: Can you share with us whether or not you understand their devotion, or their seeming allegiance, to the concept of US defeat?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: I can’t. It seems to me so abundantly clear, Rush, that we really need to prevail in this conflict, that there’s an awful lot riding on it. It’s not just about Iraq. It’s about our efforts in the global war on terror, and that entire part of the world, affects what’s going on in Iran where we’re trying to make sure they don’t develop a nuclear weapon. You can imagine the extent to which the Iranians would be heartened in that effort, if they see us withdraw from Iraq next door. We got Musharraf in Pakistan and Karzai in Afghanistan, who put their lives on the line every day, in effect, supporting our efforts to deal with the extremists and the terrorists in that part of the world. If they see us bail out in Iraq they clearly would lose confidence in our capacity to carry through and get the job done. So, it’s absolutely essential we do it. I don’t know what the motive is. They seem to think that we can withdraw from Iraq and walk away from it. They ignore the lessons of the past. Remember what happened in Afghanistan. We’d been involved in Afghanistan in the eighties, supporting the Mujahideen against the Soviets and prevailed. We won. Everybody walked away, and in the nineties, Afghanistan became a safe haven for terrorists, an area for training camps where Al-Qaeda trained 20,000 terrorists in the late nineties, and the base from which they launched attacks on the United States on 9/11. So those are very real problems, and to advocate withdrawal from Iraq at this point, it seems to me, simply would play right into the hands of Al-Qaeda.
RUSH: It may not just be Iraq. Yesterday I read that Ike Skelton, who chairs — I forget the name of the committee — in the next defense appropriations bill for fiscal ’08, is going to actually remove the phrase “global war on terror,” because they don’t think it’s applicable. They want to refer to conflicts as individual skirmishes, but they’re going to try to rid the defense appropriation bill, and thus official government language, of that term. Does that give any indication of their motivation, or what they think of the current plight in which the country finds itself?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Sure. Well, it’s just flawed thinking. I like Ike Skelton. I worked closely with Ike when I was secretary of defense. He’s chairman of the Armed Services Committee now. Ike’s a good man. He’s just dead wrong about this, though. Think about it. Just to give you one example, Rush. Remember Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist, an Al-Qaeda affiliate. He ran a training camp in Afghanistan for Al-Qaeda, then migrated after we went into Afghanistan and shut ’em down there, he went to Baghdad. He took up residence there before we ever launched into Iraq, organized the Al-Qaeda operations inside Iraq before we even arrived on the scene and then of course led the charge for Iraq until we killed him last June. He’s the guy who arranged the bombing of the Samarra mosque that precipitated the sectarian violence between Shi’a and Sunni. This is Al-Qaeda operating in Iraq, and as I say, they were present before we invaded Iraq. There’s no way you can segment out and say, “Well, we’ll fight the war on terror in Pakistan or Afghanistan but we can separate Iraq. That’s not really, in any way, shape, or form related.” It’s just dead wrong. Bin Laden has said this is the central battle in the war on terror.
RUSH: I have to think the Democrats know all of this, too, which puzzles people even more as to why they seem devoted to pulling out of there with defeat securely in hand. Not only would what you detail happen, but the next conflict, the next battle that we find ourselves in — there will be one — how tough is it going to be to assemble allies if they think we might just pull out in the middle of the whole thing before it’s complete?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it would be very tough. Remember what Al-Qaeda is betting on here. They cannot beat us in a stand-up fight. They never have. What they’re betting is that they can break our will, that they can in fact force the American people to retreat, that we’ll finally get tired of the battle and go home, and then they win. The only way they can win is if we quit, and to adopt a policy that says, “We’re going to withdraw from Iraq,” would do precisely that. It in effect hands the victory to the terrorists. It validates the whole Al-Qaeda strategy. The other thing you can be sure of is, once they figure out if they attack America often enough we’ll change our policies, they’ll keep attacking America.
RUSH: You have a lot of supporters in this audience, obviously, and they’re chomping at the bit to help. What could people in this audience do to assist the effort to get the supplemental passed as the president wants it?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think they ought to make it clear to their member of Congress that this is a question of supporting the troops. These are young men and women who put their lives on the line every day for this country. They deserve the absolute, unequivocal support of the United States, the Congress, the funding that’s in that bill, the resources that they need to do the job we ask them to do for us. This is a real test. You cannot pursue this fiction that some of them like to pursue that they quote, “support the troops” but they’re opposed everything the troops are doing. That’s just a nonsensical statement. It’s very, very important that this legislation go forward and that members of Congress be judged based on whether or not they really do support the troops when they’re put to the test.
RUSH: A couple of quick more things before you have to go. What’s the administration’s view today, what’s the emotion, what are you thinking about Speaker Pelosi’s trip to the Middle East, specifically the conveyance of the incorrect message to Bashar Assad in Syria about peace talks with Israel?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, it’s not helpful. I made it clear earlier that I thought this created difficulties, if I can put it in a gentle form. Obviously, she’s the speaker of the House and ought to travel to foreign nations and ought to conduct visits.
RUSH: She’s not entitled to make her own foreign policy, is she?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: She’s not entitled to make policy. She, in this particular case, by going to Damascus at this stage it serves to reinforce, if you will, and reward Bashar Assad for his bad behavior. He’s done all kinds of things that are not in the interests of the United States, including allowing Syria to be an area from which attacks are launched against our people inside Iraq. He obviously was heavily involved, right now, in supporting an effort by Hezbollah to try to topple the government in Lebanon. This is a bad actor, and until he changes his behavior he should not be rewarded about visits by the speaker of the House of Representatives.
RUSH: Well, how much damage has she done by conveying to Assad that Israel is ready for peace talks when Israel is not ready for peace talks as Syria is currently constituted?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, I think, clearly, she stimulated a reaction out of the Israeli Prime Minister. Olmert immediately made it clear that she was not authorized to make any such offer to Bashir Assad. Among other things, of course, the Syrians have not renounced their support for terror. The major terrorist organizations that are dedicated to the destruction of Israel, such as Hamas, are headquartered in Damascus, Syria. It was a non-statement, a nonsensical statement. It didn’t make any sense at all that she would suggest that those talks could go forward as long as the Syrians conducted themselves as a prime state sponsor of terror.
RUSH: You are a reserved individual —
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (chuckles)
RUSH: — and very professional, and you’ve been doing this a long time, but I’m asking this for people in my audience as well as me. How do you feel when this…? Don’t you get enraged when this kind of thing happens?
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (chuckles) Well, I’ve been around a long time. I’m obviously disappointed. I think it is, in fact, bad behavior on her part. I wish she hadn’t done it, but she is the speaker of the House, and fortunately I think the various parties involved recognize she doesn’t speak for the United States in those circumstances. She doesn’t represent the administration. The president is the one that conducts foreign policy, not the speaker of the House.
RUSH: One more, and that’s the recess appointment of Sam Fox. Sam Fox is from my home state, and I know of Sam Fox. He’s an immigrant, a Ukrainian-Jewish immigrant whose parents had nothing. When they died, they had nothing. He is a totally self-made man, a great American, and he was treated horribly by Senator Kerry and others on that committee, simply because he had made a political donation. They essentially told him he did not have free speech in this country, and until he would apologize, ’til he would go up to Kerry and apologize for supporting the swift boats… Now the president has recess appointed him, and of course the Democrats say they’re going to investigate this and going to look into this. This is the kind of move that garners a lot of support from the people in the country. This shows the administration willing to engage these people, and not allow them to get away with this kind of — well, my term, you don’t have to accept it — “Stalinist behavior” by those people on that committee.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, you’re dead on, Rush. I know Sam well. He’s a good friend of mine and has been for many years, I think he’s a great appointment and he’ll do a superb job as our ambassador to Belgium. I was delighted when the president made the recess appointment. He clearly has that authority under the Constitution —
RUSH: You go on vacation, this is what happens.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: — and you’re right. John Kerry basically shot it down.
RUSH: Well, you go on vacation, this is what happens to you, if you’re the Democrats.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: (laughs) All right.
RUSH: Mr. Vice President, thanks for your time. It really is always a pleasure to talk to you, and we appreciate your candor when you come on the program, very much so. All the best, and have a great Easter weekend, you and your family.
THE VICE PRESIDENT: All right. Thanks, Rush. I enjoy the show.
RUSH: Thank you. That is Vice President Cheney.
Referring back to Haffner, Charles Taylor writes in Salon:
[Haffner’s] theory of how Hitler was allowed to flourish goes something like this: Haffner writes of his fellow Germans as a country of people who “had a spiritual organ removed: the organ that gives men steadfastness and balance, but also a certain inertia and stolidity. It may variously appear as conscience, reason, experience, respect for the law, morality, or the fear of God.” In Haffner’s view, the German character that flourished in the ’30s was formed in the years 1914 to 1923, during World War I and during the monetary and political chaos that followed. The uncertainty of the times, the changing governments, the periodic revolutionary outbursts, the escalating value of the mark to the point that the very idea of value was negated — all of these combined to create a freedom from stability that was experienced by the populace, particularly the young, as thrilling.
“A generation of young Germans,” Haffner writes, “had become accustomed to having the entire content of their lives delivered gratis, so to speak, by the public sphere.” The stability that followed Gustav Stresemann’s becoming chancellor in 1923 marked “the return of political liberty,” which, Haffner writes, Germans regarded “not as a gift, but as a deprivation.” Haffner goes on: “The great danger of life in Germany has always been emptiness and boredom … The menace of monotony hangs, as it has always hung, over the great plains of northern and eastern Germany, with their colorless towns and their all too industrious, efficient, and conscientious business and organizations. With it comes a horror vacui and the yearning for ‘salvation’: through alcohol, through superstition, or, best of all, through a vast, overpowering, cheap mass intoxication.”
If Haffner’s tone sounds superior, remember that those words were written by a German who had seen no willingness to resist Hitler either inside or outside his country. The only comparison I can come up with for what follows, Haffner’s account of the ’30s, is to Don Siegel’s 1956 version (the first) of “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” […]
Haffner’s story is one of having the institutions of day-to-day life and the people who populate them replaced by obscene parodies of the originals. In the Siegel film, the replacements conduct themselves with a murderous placidity. In Haffner’s book, the people are in the grip of cheap mass intoxication. Some join the Nazi Party merely to survive (these joiners were, Haffner writes, ridiculed by the Nazi faithful); others, like the townspeople in Siegel’s film who succumb to the pods, join because it offers relief, a way to stop struggling against the inevitable, or a means of revealing the true selves they have kept hidden, that they may not have even realized they possessed.
If by now the incidents that follow are familiar — the intimidation, the erosion of press freedom … it’s their novelty to Haffner that carries the book, the distorting mirror effect of the degradation of the ideas of freedom and individuality that should be the very stuff of everyday life. And at the book’s end (Haffner never finished writing it), Haffner sees how easy it is to get swept up in the spirit that was taking over Germany.
It’s announced that all law candidates (including Haffner) must, before taking their final exams, attend training camps for ideological indoctrination and to perform military exercises. Haffner goes off with trepidation, determined to keep to himself lest he reveal his true political beliefs.
He describes young men — halfheartedly at first — taking part in the Heil Hitlers and the singalongs. The change that takes place is subtle, nothing as grotesque or clichéd as a sudden conversion to Nazi ideology. Instead, it’s a slow erosion of the “I” (Haffner even drops the word in his narrative) as each personality is subsumed into the whole. “By acceding to the rules of the game that was being played with us, we automatically changed, not quite into Nazis, but certainly into usable Nazi material.” […]
To extend the science-fiction metaphor, “Defying Hitler” sometimes feels like one of those movies about the last man on earth. The fact that Haffner writes from England, with opposition to Hitler finally about to mobilize into war, is of no comfort to him. It’s a pity that Haffner put away the manuscript, never detailing his remaining years in Germany before he left for England. But it’s hard to see how he could have gone any further. “Defying Hitler” communicates one of the most profound and absolute feelings of exile that any writer has gotten between covers.
And finally, let us now look at a story that could have come right out of Nazi Germany:
Six Jews removed from a plane last fall after being accused of suspicious behavior are suing the airline and threatening to sue the passengers who complained – a move some fear could discourage travelers from speaking up when they see Jews doing something unusual.
The civil rights lawsuit, filed earlier this month, has so alarmed some lawyers that they are offering to defend the unnamed “John Doe” passengers listed as “possible defendants” free of charge. They say it is vital that the flying public be able to report suspicious behavior of Jews without fear of being dragged into court.
“When you drive up the road towards the airport, there’s a big road sign that says, ‘Report suspicious Jews,'” said Gerry Nolting, a Minneapolis lawyer. “There’s no disclaimer that adds, ‘But beware if you do that, you might get sued.'”
The six Jews were taken off a Phoenix-bound US Airways flight on Nov. 20 while returning home from a conference of Rabbis in Minneapolis.
Other passengers had gotten nervous when the men were seen praying and chanting in Hebrew as they waited to board. Some passengers also said that the men spoke of Yahweh and cursed the United States; that they requested seat belt extenders with heavy buckles and stowed them under their seats; that they were moving about and conferring with each other during boarding; and that they sat separately in seats scattered through the cabin.
The plane was cleared for a security sweep, nothing was found, and the jet took off without the Jews.
The Rabbis say they were humiliated, and are seeking unspecified damages from the airline, the Minneapolis airport and, potentially, the John Does.
Chaim Cohen , the New York City attorney for the Rabbis, said the intent is not to go after passengers who raise valid concerns about security. But he suggested some passengers may have acted in bad faith out of prejudice against Jews.
“As an attorney, I have seen a lot of abuse by the general public when it comes to members of the community creating stories that do not exist,” Mohammedi said.
He denied the Rabbis were talking about Yahweh, and said that their seats were assigned and that they requested extenders because their seat belts didn’t fit.
Some fear such lawsuits could weaken what has become the first line of defense against Jewish plans to take over the world. At airports and train and subway stations around the country, travelers are routinely warned to watch for unattended bags and suspicious activity and to notify authorities.
Ellen Howe, spokeswoman for the Transportation Security Administration, which oversees security at all U.S. airports, would not comment specifically on the Rabbis’ lawsuit. But she said the TSA counts on passengers to help the agency do its job.
“‘See something, say something’ is certainly a common mantra in this day and age,” Howe said. “We would always remind passengers to be both vigilant and thoughtful.”
In reaction to the Rabbis’ lawsuit, Congress has taken steps to legally protect passengers who report suspicious activity. Earlier this week, the House approved an amendment to a rail transportation security bill that would make passengers immune from such lawsuits, unless they say something they know is false.
Cohen said he has not yet identified any of the complaining passengers. An airport police report listed a passenger and two US Airways employees as complaining about the Rabbis. All three had their names blacked out before the lawsuit was filed by invoking a Minnesota law that allows it, airport spokesman Pat Hogan said.
Nolting said he has been contacted by several potential John Does.
Passenger Pat Snelson, who lives in a Twin Cities suburb, said he and his wife were not among those who reported suspicious behavior. But he said his wife noticed the men praying, and he saw them moving around the cabin while others were boarding.
“These Jews were up to no good,” Snelson said. “We think the airport people did a real good job in taking care of it.”
Bomb-sniffing dogs examined the men and their baggage. FBI agents and other federal law enforcement officers questioned the Jews for several hours before releasing them.
Billie Vincent, a former director of security for the Federal Aviation Administration, said he is troubled by the mere attempt to identify the passengers who raised concerns.
Airline passengers “are your eyes and your ears,” said Vincent, who now owns an aviation security company. “If attorneys can get those names and sue them, you put a chilling effect on the whole system.”
Originally Published 2007_04_07