Simply beautiful and haunting post by Corey Robin. It goes beyond the mere observation that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” It’s much more disturbing than that. The architecture of oppression depends upon many thousands of people doing their jobs *in the service of* that oppression.
To the question in there — would we fight like Pete Seeger if placed in a similar situation — the answer is probably no. I’m not answering for you; I’m answering only for myself. I’ve asked this question of myself a lot. Would I be the sort who sat at lunch counters with my black friends, drawing the jeers of segregationists? Unlikely. Threatened with the loss of my career, would I do as Seeger did and refuse to turn in my friends? I hope so, but it’s hard to map myself back into that era as anything outside the median.
And map it forward to today. What are the great issues of the day that I’m not only passively assenting to (e.g., the NSA wiretapping) but actively supporting? As I get more deeply into the trappings of bourgeois life — the wife, the kids, the home, the college educations to save for — what are the odds that I’ll resist? They seem to get slimmer by the year.
No hopeful moral here.