"It is my goal to make the London Center, the premier foreign policy institute in the country, one that is shaping
the debate on international affairs and influencing decisions emerging from the Congress."
Jan Karski was a Professor at Georgetown University (he taught political theory - he was brilliant, and a superb teacher) who had been a member of the Polish underground during World War II. He was tall, thin, straight, with a mane of almost pure white hair, a lean face with an aquiline nose. He was what would have come out of “central casting” if someone had asked for “a Polish count.”
The students heard a few stories about him, but mostly shrugged them off. If anyone thought about it they imagined that they not only could have done what he did, but that they would have. Courage is easy when it’s theoretical.
That, of course, is the real attraction to certain types of movies, movies where the hero is challenged both physically and morally; the viewer gets to believe that they have the courage to live up to the words they mutter to themselves. Everyone watches Schindler’s List and tells themselves that they “would do that,” they would act to protect as many people as they could, that they would have never stood for such a horror as the Holocaust. Fashioning themselves as another Schindler, they see themselves as willing to stand up to the state in defense of the rights of the oppressed.
Now, as it happens, one of the key tenets of today’s Social Justice Warriors (SJWs) is that no one is excused by the era they were born in or the good that they did, if they violated what is today perceived as a grave social evil. And the definition of “grave social evil” keeps changing. Thus, Lincoln’s name may be removed from various public schools in and around San Francisco because he was more concerned with the survival of the nation than the liberation of the slaves, and that further, he concurred in the execution of 38 Sioux (sparing 285 others who had been sentenced to hang after they massacred more than 500 women and children as part of a raid during the Dakota Sioux uprising in Minnesota in 1862).
So… Consider China. Where the state provides for virtually zero protection of what the SJWs assert are the natural rights of man: there is no privacy, there is really no personal property if the state wants it, there is no real right of even something as basic as self defense. Every action of nearly every individual - and soon literally every individual - is monitored, recorded, and even graded. Travel is controlled, spending is controlled, everything is controlled. There are, from the perspective of the personal and civil rights guaranteed by the US Constitution and US Courts, literally several crimes committed against each citizen of China, every day. It is not a stretch to say that the government of China commits in excess of a trillion crimes per year.
If you want to know where the highest crime rate in the world is, you can stop looking.
And that doesn’t count the other “stuff,” the hard stuff, the things like more than 1 million Uighurs in concentration camps, suppression of religion, the slow extinguishing of the Tibetan people by moving millions of Chinese into Tibet, swallowing the Tibetan culture and society, or perhaps the slow and deliberate strangling of the rivers and water ways out of the Himalayas that should leave SE Asia and Eastern India in a state of permanent drought within a decade or so, or the pouring of millions of tons of concrete onto the reefs of the South China Sea. The list goes on. Real crimes, against real people and real territory and real societies.
Thing about Professor Karski is that what he did is a matter of record, things like smuggling himself in and out of the Jewish Ghetto in Warsaw several times, taking pictures of railroad transfer points and trainloads of Jewish prisoners on their way to the death camps, then carrying documents out of Poland to England - several times - to prove what was happening to the Jews, and then going back into Poland to do what he could to help, being caught and tortured by the Gestapo and not talking, and more.
It’s quite apparent there are very few people as brave - physically or morally - as Jan Karski, and only an insane person would want to face what he faced to find out just what their limits might be.
Yet, we still watch the movies and wonder: would we have helped - even a little? Would we have given out visas to Jews trying to flee Germany? Would we have let a ship carrying more than 900 Jews dock in Miami (the merchant ship St Louis)? Even if it meant losing our jobs?
There is an opportunity right now to, in our own small way, to do exactly what Schindler did, to push back against a government with too much power and not enough morals. And there is no fear of retaliation, our actions will all be “at long range.” Don't buy anything from China unless you need to, demand China change, demand our government confront China, demand that our government work with other governments to contain China.
But, while our individual actions might be small, virtually insignificant, there are those - the DotCom Billionaires - whose actions could make Beijing sit up and take notice. Which leaves just one question:
Are there any Schindlers in Silicon Valley?
About Pete O'Brien
Peter O’Brien has more than 30 years of successful leadership and planning experience in a wide range of organizations afloat and ashore on three continents. Mr. O’Brien’s Navy career included ten years at sea, more than a dozen years stationed overseas and multiple ...