Monday, November 18, 2013

racism, evil, and me

After reading paper drafts and introductions this weekend, it occurs to me that not all of you are convinced that racism has anything to do with you.  It does.  Whether or not you have witnessed an act of racism, whether or not you are a member of a traditionally underrepresented minority, you exist at a moment in history when racism exists.  The next generation will be absolutely correct in staring you down and asking, "You were there-- why didn't you do something?"  Here are some historical versions of the idea:

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. (attributed to Edmund Burke)

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. (translated from narrator's original Russian in Sergei Bondarchuk's film adaptation of Tolstoy's War and Peace)

The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men. (Plato)

Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing. (John Stuart Mill)

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