Under common law, silence is the legal equivalent of assent. If you object to something, speak out, otherwise you will be deemed a supporter. Maybe I should just stay silent. History shows I have a problem with keeping my mouth shut when I see something wrong. Most people know me as the federal prosecutor who worked on Nazi War Crimes cases during the Carter and Reagan Administrations and then went on 60 Minutes to expose Nazi war criminals protected by US and NATO intelligence agencies. I got death threats from every racist group in the country.
After leaving the Justice Department, I volunteered for anti-racism education programs and became the First Irish Catholic President of the Florida Holocaust Museum. I know, I should have learned my lesson and stayed silent. Sometimes my stands against racism get me in trouble.
Several decades ago, “Charlie”, a leader of the Christian Identity Movement in Florida went on television and challenged me to a “gunfight, fistfight or a debate.” I ridiculed Charlie and his silly assertions in a publicly televised debate. I exposed this phony Christian as a neo-Nazi fraud and a secret anti-Semite. Then I helped organize a protest march past the building that he rented for his church. It made national news. The owner of the property was so appalled that he evicted the racist tenants and donated their former Church building to our Holocaust Museum.
What surprised me was that so many Jewish leaders privately told me that I should never have debated Charlie. It only gave his racist views more publicity, they said. I bit my tongue and did not remind them about the cost to German Jews of staying silent when Hitler was still coming into power. The Jews were hardly alone in their fear of adverse publicity. There is overwhelming documentation that Pope Pius XII and his Undersecretary of State (later Pope Paul VI) were fully informed of the Holocaust but chose to remain silent. (more...)