Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Those who do not learn from history ...

OK, well, movies about history, anyway. Here's some quotes from Judgment at Nuremberg, which I am sad to say I never got to see with my friend Frank Podany before he died. But the quotes - and their applicability to America under the current President - should cause you at the very least to stop and think about where we have allowed ourselves as a nation to come, and where we are going. Thanks to Eddie Torres of AlterNet for pointing them out:

German Judge Ernst Lanning (played by Burt Lancaster), describing the climate of fear in pre-war Germany and how that climate allowed Hitler to do the things he did:

"There was a fever over the land… We had a democracy, yes, but it was torn by elements within. There was, above all, fear. Fear of today, fear of tomorrow, fear of our neighbors, fear of ourselves… What about us, who knew better? We who knew the words were lies and worse than lies? Why did we sit silent? Why did we participate? Because we loved our country! What difference does it make if a few political extremists lose their rights? What difference does it make if a few racial minorities lose their rights? It is only a passing phase. It is only a stage we are going through. It will be discarded sooner or later…"

Judge Dan Haywood (played by Spencer Tracy) in response:

"There are those in our country today, too, who speak of the protection of the country. Of survival. The answer to that is: survival as what? A country isn't a rock. And it isn't an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for, when standing for something is the most difficult. Before the people of the world - let it now be noted in our decision here that this is what we stand for: justice, truth… and the value of a single human being."

That's the America I love. And the one that's harder and harder to find these days.

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