Posted by: Mark Nielsen | May 12, 2011

Desperate Times, Temporary Measures

The Nazi war crimes item below is grabbed from something I originally put on facebook earlier today.

One of the casualties of Facebook (and Twitter even moreso), is that while they do help us stay connected– passing either meaningful or snarky notes back and forth in the Classroom of the Streets– the nature of that “short” or casual communication and writing is all so temporary. It  therefore, in my estimation, usually holds less potential for change or growth, within either the relationships or within the individual reader. Unless we “drill down” into the stories we alert or remind each other about, we’re just passing the time until we move on to what really matters. Which can be sad, as we don’t always have good perspective on what really matters, but our worldwide attention span gets shorter and shorter every year. So we’re bound to miss some important stuff in this habitual, headlong rush toward “what’s next?”

Thus I have attempted (with only limited success, I admit) to use Marking Time as a “slowing down” — a contemplative marking point, a way to freeze time and take a snapshot– to document in a more permanent way developments in my own life and in the world, developments or minor revelations that I at least HOPE will matter in the long run.

Developments like this one, today in the news, along with my commentary, dragged over from Facebook:

I’ve just this week seen the classic 1970 Bertolucci film “The Conformist”, about a Fascist collaborator in WWII Italy and France. Thinking about “desperate times” therefore, and this morning, this comes up on the radar –about a Ukrainian/Polish death camp guard, now 91, in what may be the last ever Nazi war crimes trial. NOW, 70 years later… the players have changed, but I suspect the idiotic game has not, and new wars create new criminals daily, who will likely never be found out nor tried, because generally they’re killing poor brown people, not middle class white (or white-ish) Europeans.

John Demjanjuk was found guilty Thursday of involvement in tens of thousands of murders by a court in Germany, capping a 25-year international legal saga over whether he was a Nazi camp guard during World War II. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
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Yet as I write this, there are still insidious armed conflicts and/or severe oppression in places like Darfur (Sudan), Myanmar (Burma), Colombia, Ivory Coast, Syria, Congo… while much of the world looks the other way– or else if they’re watching, they feel no hope in actually changing these situations.
I suppose it’s fine if we want to conduct our witch hunts for the “Ivan the Terribles”, the former Nazis and Al Qaeda operatives of the world. But even as we get our minor victories on such matters, thousands of people keep being slaughtered and starved and raped and conscripted into death squads at age 10 or 12. We’re busy pushing these high-profile, easy-answer cases through the courts of the world, or voting for the next American Idol, while millions suffer.
So when are the elder brothers and sisters of the world going to take the younger nations by the hand and lead them into the 21st century? The best way to combat terrorism, Fascism, or any other nationalist, racist, power-hungry, violent tradition is the biblical method, according to the prophet Micah: “Do justice. Love mercy. Walk humbly.”

Wake up, people of the West, and of the North. The last World War never ended, it just got postponed, re-labeled, and then shifted down south or into the Middle East.

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