Bartov, ch. 5, "An Idiot's Tale: Memories and Histories of the Holocaust," ch. 6, "Intellectuals on Auschwitz"
Theodore N. Thomas, "Women against
Hitler: Christian Resistance in the Third Reich," (including:
"Three Stories: A Narrative Introduction to the Church Struggle,"
and ch. 1, "The Church Struggle in Nazi Germany")
While the Bartov selections are primarily intended for my students in my Postmodernism class (HNRS 302: Ess), you may find them useful as well. PLEASE BE SURE TO READ THE THOMAS SELECTION!
In addition, I'm appending below a story from this morning's News-Leader regarding a singular event of _disobedience_ in the context of an American version of state-supported violence against the innocent, My Lai.
BE SURE TO NOTICE THE DISCUSSION QUESTIONS AT THE END. WE MAY OR MAY NOT BE ABLE TO ADDRESS THESE TOMORROW (TUESDAY), BUT WE WILL CERTAINLY WORK ON THEM FOR THURSDAY. AS WELL, THEY ARE LIKELY TO PLAY A MAJOR ROLE IN YOUR FIRST FORMAL (GASP!) WRITING ASSIGNMENT.
(no, you don't have to write about these for Tuesday, but it won't hurt you to do so)
1. Unlike Lt. Calley, who directed and coordinated the massacre, Thompson, Colburn, and Andreotta disobeyed superior orders - but orders that were unjust and illegal, because they involved the killing of civilians (remember Just War theory?). Lt. Calley, by contrast, was court-martialled and found guilty.
How do the actions of Thompson, Colburn, and Andreotta reflect (a) the moral guidelines of Just War theory, and (b) the presumption of natural law theory - especially as exemplified in the Nuremburg and Eichmann trials - i.e., that there _is_ a natural moral law, higher than human/civil law, which people are expected to obey _even if_ this puts them into conflict with the orders and morality of their particular culture?
2. Which reading of the Second Genesis creation story - the early, Jewish-Christian reading of the story as a story which lifts up the ability of human beings to _disobey_ higher authority through reason, and thereby assume the capacities of _self-rule_ (with all that follows, e.g., democratic polity, equality - including gender equality - etc. in the early Christian communities), or
the later, especially Augustinian reading which lifts up _disobedience_ - first of all, by the woman - as the primary _sin_ of humanity (with all that follows, e.g., hierarchical/authoritarian regimes, the elevation of _obedience_ to higher authority as a primary virtue, etc.) - better supports the actions of Thompson, Colburn, and Andreotta?
3. Which reading of the Second Genesis creation story - the early, Jewish-Christian reading or the later, especially Augustinian reading - better supports the actions of the women leadership of the "Confessing Church" in its resisting the orders and morality of the Nazi regime?
4. We have seen two versions of religious morality - divine command and natural law theory.
Especially in light of our subsequent considerations of "obedience" and "disobedience" in such episodes as -
early Christian "countercultural" rejections of prevailing hiearchies; re-reading Adam and Eve for the sake of an imperial Christianity; the American Revolution; women's suffrage; the abolitionist movement; the Civil Rights movement; obedience and resistance in the Holocaust; obedience and resistance in the Vietnam War -
a) what ethical, social, and political consequences seem likely to follow from endorsing a divine command theory?
b) What ethical, social, and political consequences seem likely to follow from endorsing a natural law theory?
Given these consequences,
c) does it seem justifiable to take up one or more of these theories in the effort to use religion as a source of morality? If so, explain _how_ you would justify the use of the theory/theories you endorse.
Here I will look especially at the quality of the _arguments- and _evidence_ you offer in support of your position.
Pilot at My Lai massacre to receive hero's honor
The little-known action of Hugh Thompson in Vietnam earns him the Soldier's Medal.
The Associated Press
LAFAYETTE, La.-Flying low over the village of My Lai in South Vietnam, helicopter pilot Hugh Thompson frantically scanned the ground below. The enemy must be there, he thought. Must be. What else could explain what he had just seen?
But the "enemy" Thompson would confront that day almost exactly 30 years ago wore U.S. uniforms. His battle with them haunts him still.
The My Lai massacre, which left about 500 Vietnamese civilians dead and led to the court-martial of Lt. William Calley, is among the darkest moments in U.S. military history.
There is a sliver of light: Thompson's little-known story.
It's the story of a man who obeyed his convictions, who defied superiors, who placed his body between villagers and his fellow soldiers, who ordered his gunner to fire on American troops if necessary. It's also a story of long-withheld recognition of this bitter brand of heroism, which some blame on a nation's shame.
On Friday, the story gets an overdue concluding chapter.
By the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, Thompson is to receive the prestigious Soldier's Medal for his action in saving some villagers and stopping American troops from killing more on March 16, 1963.
Some insist the military was reluctant to publicly honor what Thompson did. Shortly after My Lai, he received the Distinguished Flying Cross as his crewmates received Bronze stars, but he looks on that cynically.
"It was only to keep me quiet."
15 horrifying minutes
My Lai was deceptively quiet that March day.
Thompson, then 24, and his two-man crew were to swoop down over the village and draw fire so helicopters behind them could destroy the enemy with machine gun and rocket fire.
They never drew fire.
But they spotted a young Vietnamese girl, injured and lying on the road. Thompson marked the spot with a smoke grenade, radioed for help and then hovered nearby.
He and his crew watched in horror as an American Army officer walked up to the girl, flipped her over with his foot-and shot her dead.
They saw the bodies of Vietnamese children, women and old men piled in an irrigation ditch. Thompson landed and implored American soldiers: "Help the wounded."
Instead, troops fired into the bodies. Thompson wracked his brain for an explanation.
"We wanted to find something that would point the blame to the enemy, but it just didn't work," Thompson says. "It all added up to something we just didn't want to believe."
He was moved to action when he spotted villagers crowded in a hut- an old woman standing in the doorway, a baby in her arms, a child clutching her leg.
American soldiers were approaching.
"These people were looking at me for help and there was no way I could turn my back on them," Thompson recalls.
He told the officer in charge to help him get the villagers out. The officer replied that the only help the villagers would get was a hand grenade, Thompson says.
So he placed his chopper down in front of the advancing Americans and gave his gunner, Lawrence Colburn, a simple, direct order: Train your M-60 on the GIs.
If the Americans attempt to harm the villagers, "You open up on them."
Thompson radioed to two gun ships behind him, and together they airlifted a dozen villagers to safety.
He flew back to the irrigation ditch where his other crewmate, Glenn Andreotta, saw something move. Andreotta jumped out and waded through the bodies until he reached a 2-year-old boy, still clinging to his dead mother, but unharmed. He handed him to Colburn.
The standoff lasted 15 minutes.
Retelling it, Thompson shields his teary eyes at one point and whispers sternly to himself, "Get control, get control." For a while there is silence.
"I had a son at home about the same age," he finally says.
A little satisfaction
Colburn and Andreotta also will receive Soldier's Medals, though Andreotta's will be awarded posthumously. He died in a helicopter crash three weeks after My Lai. His name is etched in the black stone of the Vietnam memorial.
Colburn left the military after his tour in Vietnam and is now a salesman in Woodstock, Ga.
He and Thompson will travel to My Lai this month, the 30th anniversary of the massacre. Colburn figures that's what prompted the government to act now. "Just to save face," he says.
`'But still, 30 years later, I do get a little satisfaction. The way the award is worded, they're admitting a mistake. And that's all we thought the public should know."