Thursday, December 27, 2012

The responsibility to refuse

(Thoreau is one of the most famous Americans to have argued about the importance of public disobedience to immoral laws. He also looks a bit like the Soviet Sherlock Holmes.)

I have just read an article about the Israeli soldiers' right to refuse to carry out their superiors' orders to throw out settlers of their homesteaded homes. Some have claimed that such refusal undermines the fabric of Israeli democracy.

The author argues that every citizen of a democracy has a right to refuse the government's laws. I say that he has a responsibility to do so when the laws are immoral.

A couple quotes:
'Do not individuals have the right, indeed the duty, to question the morality of their governments’ decisions? 
The worship of the government is fascism, or as Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik wrote, “the enslavement to the state can also become idolatry.“ [...] 
In Western philosophy, going all the way back to Socrates, civil disobedience to immoral law is perceived as a fundamental protection of democracy and a means for defending the rights of the minority from the tyranny of the majority. 
Following the Second World War and the Holocaust, the Nuremberg Trials were obvious proof that obeying immoral orders is immanently immoral, as the Nazi leaders were executed for obeying laws. The civilized world had expected them to disobey these laws, regardless of the legal consequences or peril to their own safety.'
And let no idiot mention Godwin's law.

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