Thousands of weapons in some of the world’s most conflict-scarred states are being hammered, filed and welded into symbols of hope. From Maputo to Mexico City, artists are transforming decommissioned arms into an arsenal of art to highlight the futility of war and promote psychological healing.
Non-Violence, or the Knotted Gun, by Carl Fredrik Reuterswärd. The bronze replica of a 45-calibre revolver, a gift from Luxembourg to the United Nations, was sculpted in memory of the Swedish artist’s longtime friend John Lennon. Though not created from recycled munitions, the sculpture has been cited as one of the inspirations behind the arms-to-art movement. Photograph: UN
What should a public servant do if the government pursues a morally objectionable policy?
“[Australian Public Service] staff who contemplate the question above need only consider any number of recent cases in which public servants, when required to develop or implement a morally questionable policy, acted either ”immorally” by complying with the wishes of their minister or government, or ”unprofessionally” by seeking to intentionally undermine their government and its policy. To take an extreme but important example that underscores the former, consider Adolf Eichmann, the German bureaucrat and lieutenant-colonel in the Schutzstaffel (or SS). Eichmann was one of the officials charged and subsequently sentenced to death by an Israeli court in 1961 for his role in implementing the Holocaust (a legal policy of the Hitler government) among other actions.
Books such as Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963) and David Cesarani’s Eichmann: His Life and Crimes (2006) demonstrate Eichmann is a controversial yet relevant case study when considering the question above, given he is perhaps the most famous example of a public servant who was found criminally liable for implementing a legal (under German law) yet immoral government policy.
Eichmann, for his part, never denied his official involvement in the Holocaust (among other government policies that he was responsible for implementing). His role was limited to organising the logistics of transporting Jews and other civilians to concentration and death camps such as Auschwitz. He was never involved in developing or approving official German government policy. Rather, Eichmann, his defence lawyer said, considered himself ”guilty before God but not before the law”, claiming that while the Holocaust was ”one of the greatest crimes in the history of humanity” his official actions were consistent with German government policy and German law.”
Originally posted on Writers for Refugees:
Writers for refugees is a small grass-roots organisation committed to protesting the treatment of asylum seekers and refugees in the current political climate; we want prominent writers, academics and journalists to join us in speaking out against policies of mandatory detention, offshore processing and the elimination of the prospect of permanent resettlement in Australian for people who arrive here by boat. The group was founded in December 2013 by fiction writer Kalinda Ashton and poet and spoken word artist Benjamin Solah. We welcome new members and ask writers to use their public profiles to draw attention to this issue and to foreground their dissent to these policies.
You can help by signing on to our online statement and committing to reading this statement at your public events, book signings, launches and author talks. We also have a forum forthcoming to launch writers for refugees. Stay tuned for more details.
Originally posted on Operational Matters:
I am not speaking at the Close Manus rally on Saturday, organised by RAC [Refugee Action Collective]. Without thinking, I agreed to do it, thinking there could be no harm. But in fact the reaction to me speaking on Dateline has made me reconsider.
Professor Andrew Markus (my old professor at Monash) claims that refugee advocates are out of touch. Based on his social cohesion studies, he claims that public opinion is “overwhelmingly against asylum seekers who arrive by boat.”
However, when polls that show 60 per cent of the public want the Abbott government to “increase the severity of the treatment of asylum seekers”, I am proud to be out of touch with the Australian public. When a country treats other humans this terribly, I am glad not be in line with mainstream views.
Surely Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Oskar Schindler were also out of touch with the mainstream German public.
“We can never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was “legal”. It was “illegal” to aid & comfort a Jew in Hitler’s Germany. But I am sure that, if I had lived in Germany during that time, I would have aided & comforted my Jewish brothers even though it was illegal”.
- Martin Luther King