Indifference to great Crimes

Familiarity breeds indifference, not contempt. There can be no other explanation why those who were in charge of prisons and torture centres and those who commit crimes that fill us with dread do so for long and extended periods of time.

In Cleveland some women are captured and held for ten years as shackled prisoners. The Nazis operated efficient factories of death for five years and for eleven years before that kept prisoners; the principal qualification for being held or killed was a religious qualification. Prejudice is the motivator for fascists.

In the Union of Soviets, from 1920 for nearly ninety years a system of inefficient factories of death operated which managed, nevertheless, to end more lives than the Nazis managed to end, and which unjustly imprisoned millions of people. The main qualification for being killed or imprisoned by the Soviets was thought crime and lack of political correctness. Intolerance is the motivator for the communists.

As in the Cleveland case, these things happened as a result of willing people, just doing their job. The principles were laid down by leadership, but the work was done by more than a million guards, killers and torturers; even in democratic states there is a tendency to falsely imprison people and to torture them; the guards at Abu Ghraid simply did their job, just as those at Belsen and the Lubyanka Building and all the Gulags.

Perhaps if you are a guard or involved in killing or processing prisoners, merely doing your job, you get home after a hard day’s work and nestle down with the television, a newspaper, or play a game of pool and drink a few beers. You have been doing your job, and the work is hard, as all work is hard. You need a holiday, but everyone needs a holiday. And tomorrow you will go to work to process death, torture and degradation, just as you do, doing your job.

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