The final lines of Judgment at Nuremberg rang in my head today. In the last scene, Judge Haywood (Spencer Tracy) visits Ernst Janning who he’s just sentenced to life in prison for condemning people to their deaths under the Third Reich’s murderous tyranny. It’s perhaps one of the greatest final scenes in a movie ever.
Herr Janning: Judge Haywood…the reason I asked you to come…Those people…those millions of people…I never knew it would come to that. You must believe it.
Judge Haywood: Herr Janning…it came to that the first time you sentenced a man to death you knew to be innocent.
If you haven’t watched it, please do. And as you watch, ask yourself about what our own United State’s legal system could be warped into becoming with Donald Trump or Ted Cruz in office? What would Judge Haywood ask us to consider about our current politics and what will it require we do? In the face of radical misogyny, indiscriminate Islamaphobia, xenophobia, and a cult of personality (Trump has called it an “aura of personality”) what should we and what can’t we tolerate? These are not trivial questions.
When the top two candidates of the same party regularly spew hatred and bigotry, we have to ask who they’d put into the judiciary and how they could use it to subvert human rights.
Do black lives matter to these men? Hardly a peep. Trump actually belittled Sanders for his sensible approach to the Black Lives Matter movement. But…you know…ignorance is strength.
How about how Cruz ignores women’s systematic economic disadvantages or the Violence Against Women Act? Trump has simply been a pig in his dealings but Cruz has actually voted to show how little he thinks women matter.
We know they are both draconian on abortion. Trump’s recent gaff simply let something out of the bag many of us know. He’s been tapped into arch-conservative Christian rhetoric but doesn’t know what the rules of engagement are. He just blew it out of his enormous mouth for all to see, and now lots more people know there’s a radical fringe of anti-choice lunatics out there who are open to terrorizing people to undermine women’s reproductive freedom. You’d have to be kidding me to think that Cruz isn’t sympathetic to this stuff.
Their callous disregard of civil rights in the name of white Christian security should appall every person with a shred of respect for the Bill of Rights. Waterboarding and assassination from Trump. Building walls and making the Mexican government pay for it. Or what of Cruz’z idea that our security apparatus should monitor Muslim neighborhoods? Or his Armageddon-esque carpet bomb rhetoric?
What matters to them, plain and simple, is the power of themselves and the people much like them. Those are people who mustn’t ever command the seat that appoints the judiciary or runs the executive apparatus of this great nation.
If we elect Trump or Cruz, it will be a failure of our national conscience. We will put decent men like Ernst Janning in the position of enforcing great injustices. We will foreswear him to a future Judge Haywood to find him guilty.