All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to say nothing

April 24, 2008

In recent weeks the practice has had numerous calls from people obsessed with whether I am a chiropractor or not. Real patients want to talk about their problem, private investigators (sent by the GCC to collect evidence to have me convicted under section 32 of the chiropractic act ) are only interested in what I call myself. “A Spinal Health Care Practitioner”; “You practise chiropractic?” they ask, yes but I don’t call myself a chiropractor any more, I tell the spooks.

I ask all patients to sign that they have read my letter of resignation from the GCC, however the GCC jobs worth’s, tell me by having my qualifications on the wall I am implying I am a chiropractor in the UK which is a breech of section 32 of the chiropractic act. I am proud of my chiropractic qualifications and will not take them down even if it means going to jail.

The funny thing while on the GCC register I never felt stressed, I never worried about patients making a complaint, but now I have these “Secret Policemen” just waiting for me to slip up so they can send the police in to arrest me as they have done to other AECC graduates. They paid the fine, am I to be the first ECCE recognised chiropractor to be jailed in the UK for practicing chiropractic without being on the medipractor register, where 40% of UK registered chiropractors are not recognised as chiropractors outside the UK.

  Those who think it is over the top to compare the General Chiropractic Council to the type of regulatory bureaucracies that flourished in Germany in the late thirties and early forties, should read the postings on this blog about the vexatious cases, the bullying and intimidation, propaganda and misleading information by GCC members and employees and then watch the, 2005 German film Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (Die letzten Tage) depicts the anti-Nazi heroine Sophie Magdalena Scholl (May 9, 1921– February 22, 1943). Sophie and her brother, Hans, were leading members of the stop the war movement in 1942 at the University of Munich. Five young students formed the group called, The White Rose calling for the removal of Hitler from power and an end to the insanity of World War II. The group subsequently became famous as martyrs to freedom and as proof that tyranny cannot destroy man’s passion for justice.

Ignoring the dangers, Sophie and Hans were caught distributing leaflet at their University in an effort to fire up the other students on campus. Rather than admit that the war was going badly in Russia the Nazis cracked down on dissidents who were exposing the truth about the war and criticising the government. At first Sophies captors wanted information, about the other White Rose members. Despite threats interspersed with promises of leniency, Sophie and Hans do not oblige and were sentenced to death by guillotine.

Sophie is being processed through a system that wishes to execute her for speaking the truth and having the courage to say “No.”. We are all familiar with the Hollywood characterization of the Nazis in SS uniforms and jackboots, however this characterisation also loses the subtlety that allowed Nazism to become a part of everyday life in a modern educated society. It loses the sense of how evil can become commonplace and part of everyday routine, or how ordinary people can absolve themselves of all responsibility for facilitating evil, by merely becoming cogs in this machine and looking the other way.

This concept has been called “the banality of evil.” By political theorist Hannah Arendt, who attended the trial of Adolf Eichmann who had been instrumental in administering the “Final Solution” at the Nazi death camps as a high-level bureaucrat but all she could see was an old man with an enthusiasm for carrying out orders as opposed to a sadist monster. Heinrich Himmler was a chicken farmer who became head of the SS in just a few years. Arendt went on to describe how ordinary people can commit terrible acts simply because the acts are performed systematically and within a socially sanctioned context that does not demand or encourage personal accountability. 

Thus, the seizure of Jewish property was not theft if the property was confiscated through forms that were properly stamped and filled out in triplicate at a government office. Those who processed the paperwork and inventoried the goods were doing nothing more than that: paperwork and inventory. They were divorced from personal responsibility. Thus, Sophie’s killing is not murder if she is executed after receiving a show trial for violating laws against expressing the wrong political opinions. No one involved in the process needs to feel like a murderer; each is only doing a job. The Stanford Prison Experiment demonstrated how you can put some ordinary people into an evil environment and they are quiet capable of committing evil acts themselves. They were the Hutu tribe in Rwanda, American soldiers in Viet Nam and Iraq, the enforcers of the apartheid regime, Pol Pot, Radovan Karodich, Stalin, Hitler, history has many examples and all because the vast majority of people went along with the genocide and said nothing.

Any widespread government program rests on ordinary civil servants who staff the halls of bureaucracy and prisons, who type and file the paperwork. These are the people “doing their jobs”; they obey orders and follow the letter of the law without questioning its content. Indeed, the rules assumes the role of their conscience and absolves them of guilt.

In the movie, the people who facilitate Sophie’s killing are anonymous, such as the interchangeable men who lead her down corridors to a jail cell or an interrogation room. These men give less than no thought to the content of their actions. Others are “small people” who swell with self-importance that they borrow from their roles as enforcers of state policy. Still others are self-aware enough to realize, on some level, they are striking a deal with the devil; they are selling their souls for safety or a snippet of power.

Sophies court-appointed defense attorney, identified only as Klein, asks no questions and provides no defense at her trial. At their first and brief meeting in her  prison cell, Sophie asks him, “What will happen to my family?” When he dismisses the question out of hand, she objects, “You are my lawyer!” At this slight stab at the legitimacy of his position, Klein explodes into a furious personal attack on Sophie that ends with his gloating about the upcoming court verdict; it will put Sophie in her place. Klein has consciously chosen to hide behind amoral bureaucracy and will not countenance a moral mirror held to his face.

The judge who presides over Sophie’s trial is similar. Sophie’s cellmate tells her that Roland Freisler, president of the People’s Court, is a former Soviet commissar who needs to “rehabilitate himself on the home front.” Desperate to prove his loyalty, Freisler rages at the three defendants with such fury that the prosecuting attorney seems redundant. And yet, Freisler is clearly afraid. At one point, Hans replies to Freisler’s boast of not being afraid of the defendants by saying, “If you and Hitler weren’t afraid of our opinion, we wouldn’t be here.”

By far the most interesting face of evil belongs to Herr Mohr, the police agent who interrogates Sophie and forms a personal connection with her. His reluctant admiration for her clearly makes him uncomfortable, perhaps because he realizes fully the role he is playing in her destruction and takes some responsibility. Mohr is the most dangerous of the civil-service bureaucrats: intelligent, competent, and loyal to both the ideals and structure of the Nazi regime. Part of his loyalty is self-interest. When Sophie defends the former democracy of Germany, he replies bitterly, “I was only a tailor in that damn democracy!”

Those who “process” Sophie’s murder are either morally dead — that is, they have become true bureaucrats who are just doing a job — or they are shaken by the simple truth and bravery of her being. Her existence is a reproach to the devastation they do under the guise of regulation and rules.

Christy Moore dedicated his song Yellow Triangle to my mother

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