Why I Work for Veterans

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Norman Rufus Colin Cohn (January 12, 1915 – July 31, 2007) and Raul Hilberg (June 2, 1926 – August 4, 2007) died within a week of each other a couple of summers ago.

These men were scholastic giants, along with several social-psychologists in the 1950s-60s, who documented and explored how good people allowed authoritarian regimes in general to flourish, and the Holocaust specifically to happen.

Cohn’s most influential works are The Pursuit of the Millennium: Revolutionary Millenarians and Mystical Anarchists of the Middle Ages (1957) and Warrant for Genocide: The Myth of the Jewish World Conspiracy and the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (1970), anti-totalitarian works that ought to be required reading in a civilized society.

Hilberg wrote The Destruction of the European Jews (1961), regarded as the seminal study of the Holocaust killing of millions of Jews, and millions of other victims.

     Both men were historians believing in precision free of ideology in depicting the facts of past occurrence without apology to contemporary political motivations.

Cohn and Hilberg’s eloquence and precision inspired generations of humanists.

Reading Noam Chomsky’s The Culture of Terrorism (1988), Cohn’s words ring out.

All the NAZIs required of the population is a “mood of passive compliance” as Hitler’s Holocaust coursed through Europe as he promised a return to “traditional values” and security for good German families, cites Chomsky.

Passive compliance; that phrase should become an imprecation, a curse reserved for the most despicable of acts.

Norman Finkelstein, a child of concentration camp survivors and a furious critic of violence, writes of Hilberg after his death:

Hilberg famously used the triad Perpetrators-Victims-Bystanders to catalogue the main protagonists in the Nazi holocaust. It is notable that he didn’t include a category for givers of succor, presumably because they were so few in number. Judging by the life he lived, my guess is that, had the tables been turned, Hilberg would have been among those few.I can’t help but think that Hilberg and Cohn went to their deaths disappointed and saddened as the idiocies of the Bushes, Cheneys, Powells, and Rices go unchallenged by far too many Americans.

There was a fourth small sub-category for givers of succor, resistance.
 
I can’t help but think that Hilberg and Cohn went to their deaths disappointed and saddened as the idiocies of the Bushes, Cheneys, Powells, and Rices go unchallenged by far too many Americans.
It was happenstance that I became involved in veterans’ advocacy, though I didn’t do it lightly.
Probably veterans’ attorney Bob Walsh had the most to do with it; he’s a crazy fucker, easy to listen to.
But as the plight, the utter obscenity of what is happening to our veterans became apparent, I think that resistance is a moral imperative.
We don’t have anything like the Holocaust happening in our country.
But there is extreme injustice, and veterans are getting it bad. For what’s it’s worth, that’s why I stand up and do a lot of tedious work helping veterans in Wisconsin; I don’t want to be a bystander. You lose your capacity and your duty to action against injustice, small, large and historically evil, a bystander is a non-living nothing.
Peace.

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