Thursday, 19 November 2009

Defending Genocide (Part V) - Nuremberg Defense

You all may remember our apologist who now wonders whether the Israelis could know these commands came from god. Well, really they couldn't, but it doesn't really matter. Even if the commands did come from god, who cares? They were immoral commands and should not have been carried out.

More interesting to me is the next section where the apologist asks whether the Israelis were simply justifying their actions. Let's take a look:
When the Israelites destroyed a population, they were acting as God's tools, not taking matters into their own hands. God made it clear to them that he was the one behind their victories (Jdg 7:2-3, Josh 5:13-14). In many cases, the nations were defeated by miracles of God (Josh 6, 10:8-14), and in all cases the Israelites were victorious only because they were following God, who gave them the victory (Josh 10:42).

Why am I reminded of the Nuremberg Defense? Hmmm, maybe because that's what this basically boils down to. This is just a long-winded way of saying that the Israelis were 'only following orders.' Yet, we rightly concluded that that defense shouldn't have worked with the Nazis and it doesn't work here. Sorry, but 'just following orders' doesn't absolve the Israelis from their crimes of aggression and genocide.

Other posts in this series...


Anonymous said...

The Nuremberg trials were the worst kind of show trials, sponsored by and on behalf of the Soviet Union's propaganda machine, which sought to shift blame for all of the war's atrocities on defeated Germany. In granting the judges the final say in what evidence would be admissible, the right to question witnesses directly, and to ignore the arguments of defense or prosecution attorneys, the Tribunal followed exactly the practice of the ancient Catholic Inquisition, giving the predetermined verdicts the appearance of legitimate legal findings.

The Allies discarded basic principles of Western jurisprudence, perhaps most notably the well-established principle that in the absence of a law there can be neither crime nor punishment. Instead, the Tribunal established new laws for the occasion, which were applied not only retroactively, but uniquely and exclusively to the German defendants.

The biased nature of the proceedings is starkly evident in these three articles from the Tribunal's Constitution. Article 19: The Tribunal shall not be bound by technical rules of evidence; Article 20: The Tribunal may require to be informed of the nature of any evidence "before it is entered" so that it may rule upon the "relevance thereof." (Emphasis added.); Article 21: The Tribunal shall not require proof of “facts of common knowledge" but shall take judicial notice thereof. (Emphasis added.)

Forged documents were routinely submitted as genuine, and almost all the defendants had endured torture in order to obtain the testimony the Soviets required. Out of 139 German witnesses who testified that the “holocaust” had occurred, for one example, the British Medical Officer recorded that 137 had “damage to their testicles that is beyond repair”. A number of Germans had died under interrogation by the Allies. There was also the ever-present threat of torturing or murdering the men’s families or sending them to Soviet Gulags.

The Chief Justice of the United States Harlan Fiske Stone called the Nuremberg trials a fraud. He said, “Chief US prosecutor Jackson is away conducting his high-grade lynching party in Nuremberg,” he wrote. “I don’t mind what he does to the Nazis, but I hate to see the pretense that he is running a Court and proceeding according to common law. This is a little too sanctimonious a fraud to meet my old-fashioned ideas.”

Associate Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas charged that the Allies were guilty of “substituting power for principle” at Nuremberg. “I thought at the time and still think that the Nuremberg trials were unprincipled,” he wrote. “Law was created ex post facto to suit the passion and clamor of the time.”

"Human rights" has never been more than a fine phrase calculated to make people content with the wisdom and kindness of their rulers. The nations that looked on the Third Reich with such moral indignation had the blood of millions on their collective hands, from the spectacular savagery of Stalin, to the murders, enslavement, and exploitation of hundreds of millions in the Third World by France and Britain, and of course the slavery, genocide, and the unabashed racism that were the foundations of the United States. Moreover, these nations specifically rejected defining norms of international conduct which they feared might limit their future ability to destabilize or destroy other nations.

Tigerboy said...

People do shitty things. Nations do shitty things. Societies do shitty things. (And, hindsight is 20/20.)

Whilst looking backward, it's a simple thing to tally-up the destruction. But, you seem to be suggesting that "Human Rights" is just some sort of propaganda. I disagree.

World Wars I and II gave us plenty of destruction to-go-around. They also gave us the Geneva Conventions.

Yes, the United States was built (in some part) on the blood, sweat and tears of enslaved people. We endured Jim Crow. We also freed the slaves and had the Civil Rights Movement … and things got better. Women and gay people have been marginalized and dismissed. Things are getting better for them, too. Social justice tends to make things get better. (It usually requires the mental gymnastics of religion to reverse the trend.)

Just as virtually every single child wishes to make its parents proud of him or her … virtually every single parent wishes for his or her children to be proud of them, too. (Whether they succeed, or not, is a separate issue.) People want to be identified as "good parents." Most people wish to be seen by their friends and family as "doing the right thing." They wish to be seen as honest and fair. (Donald Trump aside, very few people are totally fine with being labeled "selfish and hateful and racist.") Very few human beings aspire to committing genocide.

Yes, power corrupts. Yes, people are greedy.

Social Justice is innate in the human condition, however. We are social primates. The majority of humans wish (as much as we are capable) to live lives of fair-play, decency, stability … and even kindness and altruism. Virtually any human who parents a child will get a quick reminder of these ideals (although, reproduction is hardly required in order to be in touch with those traits which make for a decent, fair, honest, non-violent, trustworthy social primate).

Yes, shit happens. And, yes, people will do horrible things (if they think they can get away with it). Some are malicious. Some are deluded. Some are really, really stupid.

People face all kinds of situations of hardship, lack-of-opportunity, and ignorance. When people face hardship, they feel free to "break the rules" and do whatever they must in order to survive. Some people can rationalize all kinds of terrible behavior, yet still think of themselves as "good people." Yet, scrutiny-by-others and some honest reflection forces people to face difficult truths. (It can take a while to shine a light into all the proper corners.)

Given just a bit of political stability and financial security … most people wish to make their children, and their parents, and their friends proud of them. THAT is the basis for morality.

"Morality" is a human judgment, and therefore fallible, but most people will make SOME effort at doing what is "right." Humans are innately empathetic. We naturally apply "The Golden Rule." We want to get along with the neighbors. We want to raise our children in peace and safety. We hope to get to the end of our lives and be seen as having done our best. The pressures we feel to be "moral" do not come from a deity … they come from the collective judgments of our fellow humans.

Stable societies try to incorporate these ideas of "fair-play" and "doing-the-right-thing" into their laws.

"Human Rights" is not propaganda meant to quell the masses. It is just the opposite. It is the common man demanding the better, fairer treatment he deserves … and civil societies making some acknowledgment that he is correct.

Societies, like individual people, can go astray. But, the sum total of humanity, eventually, does a pretty good job of reining-in the corruption, hatred, violence and greed of it's worst-behaved individual elements.

To paraphrase Rodney King, most of us just want to get along.