Marilyn M. Barnewall
July 4, 2010
[NOTE: My Mother died Friday afternoon at 12:30 p.m., MDT. I offer the article in tribute to her, Hester B. Wooden MacGruder Brown, a woman who taught her children: “…that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” She rests now with her Creator. God bless, Mom. I will always honor you.]
I Love My Country (And so Did She)
Like most writers, I usually approach patriotic holidays from a patriotic perspective. I love my country – not right or wrong, but I love America. There is no place in the world like it!
I couldn’t help but ponder an appropriate celebration for America’s 4th of July birthday. Our nation is bleeding economically, environmentally, and from a lack of access to our unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Government socialism invades every corner of our private lives from unneeded and unwanted health care to proposed cap and trade legislation that they think will pound the last nail into the American coffin.
They don’t know the American people! As Dwight David Eisenhower once said, “The clearest way to show what the rule of law means to us in everyday life is to recall what has happened when there is no rule of law.”
Birthdays are always a good time for self analysis and reflection. We can think of what we’ve learned in the past year and how to use that knowledge in the one upcoming. If my analysis makes me sound skeptical about America’s future birthdays, well my readers know I usually tell it like I see it. I see a total lack of political leadership. I see a total lack of political commitment to free enterprise and capitalism – from both political parties. Even more significant, I see a total lack of political understanding as to the value of America historically. I see greed at the base of decisions that dominate the financial services industry. I see fraud in government behavior not just towards Oaths of Office taken but lawful regulatory oversight required (whether it’s in our banks or our oceans or at our borders).
The Democrat Party objective, it seems, is to gain voter support via illegal aliens, expanding the power base of unions, giving financial support to groups Americans oppose (ACORN is but one example), and those who don’t have any sense of purpose. They see no fault with letting the sweat from their neighbors’ brows support them. For those who are retired or have no choice about working and earning and being productive, it’s a different issue. Those who have a choice and don’t work are good examples of a life lesson I learned years ago: People need a purpose and that sometimes drives them to be a minus rather than a zero because a zero’s life has no purpose and is meaningless.
America has a burdensome number of minuses, but they are vastly out numbered by the plusses!
The Republican political objective appears to be ignoring what the Democrats do – let them slit their own throats and do nothing that might cause a political negative. Don’t take any chances – like standing up for the Constitution or the Rule of Law. That kind of non-existent political savvy lost British conservatives the recent elections in England – but Republicans appear anxious to follow their example. British conservatives were much further ahead 100 days before England’s elections than American conservatives are – and they lost using the same strategy the GOP geniuses now use. Such stupidity deserves its fate.
All of the above made me pay particular attention lately to an old movie. Spencer Tracy (Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role) portrayed Chief Judge Dan Haywood at the German War Trials in the Bavarian city of Nuremberg after World War II.
The movie script for Judgment at Nuremberg was written by Abby Mann and the film was directed by Stanley Kramer. It was released in Switzerland 18 December 1961. Maximilian Schell played the role of Hans Rolfe, the German defense lawyer (Oscar for Best Actor). Judgment at Nuremberg had a blockbuster cast and won many Academy Awards… Montgomery Clift (Best Supporting Actor), Judy Garland (Best Supporting Actress); it won Best Director, Best Film Editing, Best Picture – you get the idea. It’s a long movie but one of the most worthwhile I’ve seen.
Judgment at Nuremberg 1961 offers a stellar warning to America 2010. Though the warning is knitted into the total film fabric, the closing remarks of Chief Judge Dan Haywood (Spencer Tracy) are remarkable. It is my hope you will read these remarks from the movie (below) and realize the seriousness of the battle for your country in which you are embroiled today.
Spencer Tracy (as Chief Judge Dan Haywood) says:
“The trial conducted before this Tribunal began over eight months ago. The record of evidence is more than 10,000 pages long and final arguments of Counsel have been concluded.
“Simple murders and atrocities do not constitute the gravimond of the charges in this indictment. Rather the charge is that of conscious participation in a nationwide, government-organized, system of cruelty and injustice in violation of every moral and legal principle known to all civilized nations. The Tribunal has carefully studied the record and found therein abundant evidence to support, beyond a reasonable doubt, the charges against these defendants.
“Herr Rolfe, with his very skillful defense, has asserted that there are others who must share the ultimate responsibility for what happened here in Germany. There is truth in this. The real complaining party at the Bar in this courtroom is civilization. But the Tribunal does say the Command at the Dock are responsible for their actions: Men who sat in black robes in judgment on other men; men who took part in the enactment of laws and decrees the purpose of which was the extermination of human beings; men who in executive positions actively participated in the enforcement of these laws – illegal even under German law.
“The principle of criminal law in every civilized society has this in common: Any person who sways another to commit murder, any person who furnishes the lethal weapon for the purpose of the crime, any person who is an accessory to the crime, is guilty.
“Herr Rolfe further asserts that the defendant Janning was an extraordinary jurist and acted in what he thought was the best interests of his country. There is truth in this also. Janning, to be sure, is a tragic figure. We believe he loathed the evil he did. But compassion for the present torture of his soul must not beget forgetfulness of the torture and the death of the millions by the government of which he was part.
“Janning’s record and his fate illuminate the most shattering truth that has emerged from this trial. If he, and all of the other defendants, had been degraded perverts, if all of the leaders of the Third Reich had been sadistic monsters and maniacs, then these events would have no more moral significance than an earthquake or any other natural catastrophe – but this trial has shown that under a national crisis, ordinary even able and extraordinary men can delude themselves into the commission of crimes so vast and heinous that they beggar the imagination. No one who has sat through the trial can ever forget them. Men sterilized because of political belief; a mockery made of friendship and faith; the murder of children. How easily it can happen.
“There are those in our own country too who today speak of the protection of country… of survival. A decision must be made in the life of every nation, at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at his throat. Then it seems the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy – to rest survival on what is expedient -- to look the other way. Only, the answer to that is: Survival as what? A country isn’t a rock. It’s not an extension of one’s self. It’s what it stands for. It’s what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult.
“Before the people of the world, let it now be noted, that here, in our decision, this is what we stand for: Justice, truth, and the value of a single human being.”
Haywood then sentences all defendants to life in prison. A high-ranking military official sitting behind prosecuting attorney Colonel Tad Lawson (played by Richard Widmark) leans forward and says: “He doesn’t understand!” At the time, the American military was worried about implementing the Berlin Airlift without the help of the German people. They worried about the anger caused by guilty verdicts and life sentences. Widmark (as the prosecutor) doesn’t take his eyes off of Judge Haywood (Spencer Tracy), and says: “He understands.”
Judge Curtiss Ives dissents from the other two judges on the panel, stating: “I wish to point out strongly my dissenting vote from the decision of this Tribunal as stated by Justice Haywood and with which Justice Norris concurred. The issue of the actions of the defendants who believe they were acting in the best interests of their country is an issue that cannot be decided in a courtroom, alone. It can only be decided objectively… in years to come, in the true perspective of history.”
Undoubtedly, Judge Ives was one of those Americans to whom Chief Judge Haywood referred when he spoke of those “who today speak of the protection of country… of survival.” Ives evidently had difficulty understanding the concept of “justice, truth, and the value of a single human being.” He had difficulty understanding the importance of self responsibility.
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Things don’t change much, do they? The American people still value justice, truth and the value of a single human being. Until our leaders understand, our nation remains as a headless horseman riding blindly in the night of political ambiguity, lack of moral fiber for a saddle and compromise with evil their reins in hand.
© 2010 Marilyn M. Barnewall - All Rights Reserved
Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall began her career in 1956 as a journalist with the Wyoming Eagle in Cheyenne. During her 20 years (plus) as a banker and bank consultant, she wrote extensively for The American Banker, Bank Marketing Magazine, Trust Marketing Magazine, and other major industry publications. The American Bankers Association published Barnewall’s Profitable Private Banking, the first book written about private banks, in 1987. She taught private banking at Colorado University for the American Bankers Association and trained private bankers in Singapore in 1991. She has authored seven banking books, one dog book, and one work of fiction (about banking, of course). She has served on numerous Boards in her community.
Barnewall received her degree in Banking from the University of Colorado Graduate School of Business in 1978 and was named one of America's top 100 businesswomen. She was a founding member of the Committee of 200, the official organization of America's top businesswomen. She can be found in Who's:Who in America (2005-08), Who's Who of American Women (2006-08), Who's Who in Finance and Business (2006-08), and Who's Who in the World (2008).