A Reader Remembers East Germany…And PC Arizona
June 21, 2004
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When reading your story of the
persecuted teacher in Arizona, a peculiar sense of
deja vu came over me. You see, it is like this: Long
ago I had friends in the old DDR, East Germany. Despite
what you might have been told, that
regime seldom found it necessary to prosecute or
imprison anyone despite the
widespread disaffection of the East German people.
Imprisonment would have required a trial at which the
accused would have claimed his rights under the DDR
So the authorities utilized a far
more effective control mechanism: since the state was
almost the sole employer (and educator) anyone about
whom a secret
complaint was filed could be reassigned to a less
desirable job or education. No one knew exactly what
would initiate the process. Fear alone was quite
My friend was demoted from command
of a large warship to night janitor without any legal
action. As job reassignment violated no statutory
rights, the DDR could claim an exemplary record of
respect for free speech.
The DDR also rationed housing and
consumption articles by the same method. Everyone had
vast amounts of DDR currency, but to purchase anything
except bread, sausage and beer required a letter of
recommendation from one`s supervisor.
Similarly, many years ago, I was
pilloried by the Arizona Republic for suggesting
that Navajos, as US citizens, had exactly the
same rights as all other citizens and perhaps
Indian reservations had become inappropriate.
Apparently equality before the law is race hatred. How
could I have guessed?
The Arizona Republic`s
selective editing of my written words transformed me
Hitler of the Day. Of course, they did not deign to
publish my letter of clarification. The origin of the
affair was a letter I received in which the Navajo
Nation threatened to try me before the Navajo Court
(without appeal) and seize my property in Denver unless
I gave Navajos employment preference in my Denver
business. I had the temerity to question their authority
and cite the outcome of the
Indian wars a point against them.
So you see where we are headed.