Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Ronald Reagan Brings Shame

From National Vanguard magazine No. 104, March-April 1985:

Ominous Tableau
By William L. Pierce

In the years of ancient Rome's long and painful slide into chaos and dissolution, the towering edifice of Roman law, built up during earlier centuries of greatness, maintained an impressive facade. But justice, like the other cornerstones of Roman society, participated in the general slide. State authority was still mighty, but the corruption of the times had transformed it.
The epitome of the change could be seen in a tableau which occurred on many a sunny afternoon in Rome's Colosseum: One gladiator, wounded and defeated, lay stretched out on the sand; another gladiator, victorious, stood over him with sword, spear, or trident poised, waiting for a signal from the imperial box that would mean life or death for his vanquished opponent. But the emperor himself waited before giving the thumbs-up or thumbs-down sign; he waited long enough to sense the mood of the crowd. Would the rabble in the stands cheer, or would they mutter angrily, if he condemned the defeated gladiator? Were they in the mood for blood or for mercy?
This was not an idle concern on the emperor's part. The gladiatorial games were, after all, part and parcel of the whole scheme of bread and circuses which kept the urban rabble more or less pacified and permitted the state to continue its slow decay in moderate tranquility, instead of being exposed to the dangers and uncertainties of popular unrest and upheaval.
How often we have the feeling these days that the various agencies of the U.S. government--in the judicial and legislative branches, as well as in the executive branch--operate according to much the same principle as the Roman emperors! Which is to say, they don't operate according to principles at all, but according to their momentary perceptions of what will elicit favor. And, unfortunately, favor most often is sought from a far more sinister source than the urban rabble.
There was a more recent tableau, which in its own way also epitomized the decay of a mighty nation and of the people who built that nation. It was a small thing, President Reagan's presentation, on behalf of the Congress, of a gold medal to professional Auschwitz “survivor” Elie Wiesel on April 19 in the White House. Of course, there was the awkward fact that during the previous week Wiesel had publicly and repeatedly criticized the President for his “insensitivity” in planning to lay a wreath in the German military cemetery at Bitburg. A man with any sense of personal dignity--and, certainly, a President of the United States with any sense of the dignity of his office--would have cancelled the presentation ceremony and delegated the White House janitor to hand Mr. Wiesel his Congressional medal at the back door, and then to tell him, in anatomical detail, what the President hoped he would do with it.
Dignity, however, has no place in democracy, and the ceremony proceeded as scheduled. Despite the embarrassing awkwardness of the situation, if there had been no television cameras present the whole episode would have had little significance. But the cameras were there, and the picture of what happened was broadcast to the world.

And what a picture it was! Instead of accepting the medal, saying “thank you,” and sitting down, Elie Wiesel seized the opportunity to give the President a lengthy lecture on the sufferings of the Jews and “the crime of indifference” to those sufferings by Gentile political leaders who were insufficiently sensitive to Jewish needs. There was the quintessential Jew, shaking his finger in the face of the Gentile President and sternly chiding him, while the latter sat silently, looking up at his lecturer with an expression like that of a whipped dog for 13 agonizingly long minutes! And the world watched it all.

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