Friday, January 28, 2005

Ashes to ashes

Chris Floyd: 'Ashes to ashes'
Posted on Friday, January 28 @ 10:01:32 EST
By Chris Floyd, The Moscow Times
This week, grim ceremonies marked the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, where the Nazis murdered 1.5 million people. These remembrances of horror provoked extensive commentary, summed up in a single agonizing question: How could this have happened?
Answers -- some simplistic, others more nuanced -- were offered by various pundits and scholars: It was one man's madness; it was the result of unique historical circumstances; it was the inevitable byproduct of a totalitarian system, and so on. Implicit in these comments was the comforting notion that such deliberate mass atrocity is possible only under a tyrannical regime, led by brutal dictators, "madmen" like Hitler, Stalin and Saddam; it could never happen in a democracy, where a free people exercise its electoral will, and strong civic structures curb the excesses of state power. Indeed, in his "fire sermon" at the inauguration, U.S. president George W. Bush claimed that democracy is a divine system, created by God Himself. It could therefore never be an instrument of evil.
Does this stance correspond to reality, to history? To get at the deeper truth, perhaps the question we should ask is not, "How did Auschwitz happen?" but rather, "What exactly happened at Auschwitz?"
Well, here's what happened: Government leaders ordered the murder and torture of innocent people in the defense of "the Homeland" and the superior "moral values" of their culture. They produced copious justifications for their actions, including legal rulings from top government attorneys, while concealing the actual operational details from public knowledge in the name of "national security." When faced with undeniable evidence of atrocity, they blamed "bad apples" in the lower ranks....