Friday :: Jun 24, 2005

Every Evil Dog Eventually Has His Day In Court

by pessimist

After 41 years, justice finally came this week to claim Edgar Ray Killin for his role in the murders of civil rights activists in 1964. This is a good thing, and frankly I'm very surprised that this came about in a state which still has many racists - apparently including their US Senators - living there. It took a long time - but not as long as others who long avoided their turn in the dock for even more heinous crimes.

In a story little noticed in the self-absorbed trivia-flooded US, ten former Nazi soldiers were convicted 61 years after taking part in one of Italy's worst wartime atrocities, the massacre of 560 men, women and children in a small village in Tuscany in 1944.

The massacre in the village of Sant'Anna di Stazzema was one of Italy's worst atrocities of the second world war. The population of around 400 had been increased by some 1,000 refugees who had sought shelter there as the Allies fought the retreating German forces.

At dawn on August 12 1944, four companies of the 16th SS Panzer Grenadier Division marched into the hamlet high in the Tuscan hills. The 300-strong SS division had been ordered to carry out a scorched earth policy and root out partisans. Instead they shot hundreds of elderly men, women and children.

Is this so different from the stories we were hearing from Fallujah in specific, and Iraq in general?

Sure, the insurgents reportedly have killed some 18,000, but the US military has still killed more - and we won't for the moment take the Gulf War and 'containment' civilian casualties into the total.

All of the killings of innocent civilians in Iraq - which was NOT the nation that provided the pilots of the hijacked airliners -
were ordered within the context of an illegal war - as was found by a US military court-martial judge.

The Nuremberg trials established that the leaders of a nation are just as culpable as those whom they ordered to pull the triggers, or drop the Zyclon B tablets, or torture helpless prisoners to obtain information. The DSM prove that at least the Brits knew that the war was illegal. Thus, under the guidelines of the Nuremberg Trials, the administration of George W. Bush can - and should - be tried for war crimes.

Killin Me Softly

It took 41 years, but Edgar Ray Killin was sentenced to 60 years for the three murders, despite the fact that he didn't pull the triggers which killed Michael Schwerner, James Chaney and Andrew Goodman. Unlike Edgar Ray Killin, however, the Italian judgement will not require these ten Nazi murderers to actually serve time in the Greybar Hotel 61 years after their crimes. It isn't felt to be necessary to extradite 80 year old German men to Italy for imprisonment as Mississippi is doing to Edgar Ray Killin (and deservedly so, IMHO). As one survivor of the Tuscan massacre put it:

"The verdict is irrelevant," said survivor Enio Mancini, who was six at the time. "But we had asked for two things - justice, as far as it is still possible, but also truth. The trial has helped us with that."

It is no different in the case of Edgar Ray Killin. He is merely the symbolic perpetrator who represents all the others he conspired with to murder Goodman, Schwerner and Cheney. His conviction provided a symbolic justice and a revelation of the truth. This may be enough. As article author Patti Davis - yes, Ronald Reagan's daughter - puts it:

Of the 19 men who were ultimately arrested in connection with this case, many walked free. Two who didnít ó who were imprisoned ó were beaten by black inmates. This is the lesson of hatred, ... how it just grows and feeds on pain and anger. Maybe the best each of us can do is ... refuse to hate someone like Edgar Ray Killen. Punish, yes. Be thankful that some justice has been done, obviously. But the final victory over the legacy he was part of is to look at the hatred in his eyes with no hatred in our own.

I hope that when the time comes to mete out justice to the war criminals currently masquerading as the government of the United States of America, we will remember this statement. We will need to punish them for their crimes - and we will need to avoid the hatred with which we progressives have been abused by those who trespass against us. We will need to demonstrate that we are better than those whose hatred of all non-white non-Christians, mixed with their greed for natural resources owned by these victims, led them to commit the most heinous acts humans can commit against one another.

The world will expect nothing less of us.

Ronald Reagan used to like to use the image of America being a shining city on a hill, setting the example for all the world to follow. Much of the world's troubles can be laid at the feet of previous American administrations - Mossadegh in 1953, Arbenz in 1954, Iraqi King Faisal II in 1958, Hammarskjold in 1961, Diem in 1963, Allende in 1973, Aristide for the second time in 2004, ... - and which sets an extremely bad example for the world to follow.

It is time we set a better example, and we can begin by dealing with our own homegrown terrorists - no matter what high office they occupy. It is my opinion that all members of Bu$hCo who were involved in the conduct of the illegal Oil War should be tried and convicted.

The world will expect nothing less of us.

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