I’m leaving for Scotland tomorrow and will be away for 4 weeks. Like the last two years, before leaving, I have been reflecting on my involvement in Dr. Rafil Dhafir’s case. (Links to my thoughts from 2006 and 2005 can be found below.)

I was telling someone recently how much my naiveté has helped. Had I known how difficult it would be to get people to listen I don’t think I would have attempted it; so I’m grateful for my naiveté. I believed for a very long time that if I could only let people know about the case then it would all be sorted out and Dr. Dhafir would be free, but many people are intentionally ignorant. Knowledge is a terrible thing, it throws you out of the Garden of Eden: they do not want to know.

I recently completed another article (not yet available) that looks at 4 “terrorism” cases including Dr. Dhafir’s. I chose these cases because they are listed together in a 2003 “Terrorist Financing” paper long before any of them had been anywhere near a court of law. Tragically Muslims and Arabs in the post 9/11 are being subject to an ad hoc redefinition of their rights without any public debate or significant public outcry, this denial of due process is a disgrace to us all.

I’ve recently been reading Chalmer’s Johnson’s new book “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic” in which he talks about Hannah Arendt, author of “The Origins of Totalitarianism” and “Eichmann in Jerusalem.” After talking about Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, the acceptance of torture and what it means for the coming generations of Americans, Johnson goes on to say,

“In 1964, Hannah Arendt addressed a similar problem when she tried to plumb the evil of the Nazi regime. Her book ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem’ dealt with the trial of the former SS officer Adolf Eichmann, who was charged with organizing the transport of Jews to death camps during World War II. She subtitled her book ‘A Report on the Banality of Evil’ but used that now famous phrase only once, at book’s end, without explaining it further. Long after Arendt’s death, Jerome Kohn, a colleague, compiled a volume of her essays entitled ‘Responsibility and Judgment.’ What made Eichmann both evil and banal, Arendt concluded in one of those essays, was his inability to think for himself.

“’Some years ago’ she wrote, ‘reporting the trial of Eichmann in Jerusalem, I spoke of the ‘banality of evil’ and meant this with no theory or doctrine but something quite factual, the phenomenon of evil deeds, committed on a gigantic scale, which could not be traced to any particularity of wickedness, pathology, or ideological conviction in the doer, whose only personal distinction was perhaps an extraordinary shallowness. However monstrous the deeds were, the doer was neither monstrous nor demonic, and the only specific characteristic one could detect in his past as well as in his behavior during the trial and the preceding police examination was something entirely negative: it was not stupidity but a curious, quite authentic inability to think.’”

Johnson says, “Arendt was trying to locate Eichmann’s conscience.” And called him a “desk murderer,” he continued,

“How do ordinary people become desk murderers? First they must lose the ability to think because, according to Arendt, ‘thinking conditions men against evil doing.’ Jerome Kohn adds, ‘With some degree of confidence it may be said that the ability to think, which Eichmann lacked, is the precondition of judging, and that the refusal as well as the inability to judge, to imagine before your eyes the others whom your judgment represents and to whom it responds, invite evil to enter and infect the world.’ To lack conscience means ‘never to start the soundless solitary dialogue we call thinking.’” (p. 21-22.)

[Chalmers Johnson, “Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic,” Metropolitan Books 2007.]

When I read this piece about the evil consequences of people’s inability to think it spoke directly to what I have experienced over the last few years with my involvement in Dr. Dhafir’s case.

I continue to hope that we will be able to achieve justice but now it is with a much clearer understanding of how enormous the obstacles to this are. Through my involvement in this case I’ve come to understand that the law isn’t about fairness and justice – it’s about The Law. Everything the government has done to Dr. Dhafir (and other Muslim and Arabs) is perfectly legal: holding without bail, denial of access to counsel and records, withholding evidence, secret evidence, bringing charges to sentencing that play no part in a trial…

Our society is in grave danger, unless we work to ensure the equitable application of the law and the protection of the freedoms for all what is happening to Arabs and Muslims across the country could be happening the rest of us tomorrow.

This quote from Daniel Berrigan has kept me going in recent months:

“One cannot level one’s moral lance at every evil in the universe. There are just too many of them. But you can do something, and the difference between doing something and doing nothing is everything.”

I won’t be posting on my site very often while I am away but encourage people to browse the history of the case and the great, often timeless, articles that I have posted. I am looking forward to a break and hope to come home and get some balance back into my life, including getting back to making pots.


Update before going to Britain May 3, 2007

Update before going to Britain April 20, 2005.

I don’t get time to write to Rafil as often when I am traveling; please write to Rafil and let him know that he is not forgotten and that his humanitarian work is greatly appreciated. (Send him a nice card if you prefer.) Also, he can recieve books and magazines directly from the bookstore or publisher. Because Dr. Dhafir is in the Communication Management Unit there is a 1-2 week delay of ingoing and outgoing mail.

To write to Rafil:
Rafil Dhafir, 11921-052, P.O.Box 33, Terre Haute FCI, Indiana 47808

Write you name and address (not an address label, that may be torn off) so that he will know who the letter is from. Do not address him as Dr. as these letters are being returned.