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"Deviant behavior by members of our group is perceived as more disturbing, and produces stronger retaliation"

Lt. Colonel Dave Grossman's "On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society" is a fascinating work. It's required reading for much of the American military officers and law enforcement personnel. There's many counter-intuitive points in there, including that the vast majority (approximately 80%) of soldiers during the American Civil War and World War II never actually fired with the intent of hitting the enemy.

This paragraph stood out to me -

[In Dr. Jerome Frank's] Sanity and Survival in the Nuclear Age, […] he points out that civil wars are usually more bloody, prolonged, and unrestrained than other types of war. And Peter Watson, in War on the Mind, points out that "deviant behavior by members of our own group is perceived as more disturbing and produces stronger retaliation than that of others with whom we are less involved." We need only look at the intensity of aggression between different Christian factions in Europe across the centuries, or the infighting between the major Islamic sects in the Middle East, or the conflict between Leninist, Maoist, and Trotskyist Communists, or the horror in Rwanda and other African tribal battles, to confirm this fact.

Friday Found Poem: Mr. Mezei on the Island

On like an apple

This week's "found poem" is another one crafted from a legal case.

The case is a really interesting situation that happened during the second "red scare" in the U.S., in the 1950s. Mezei, a Romanian/Hungarian man had lived here in the US legally for 25 years, as a permanent resident (i.e., he had what everybody calls a "green card," though it is not green now). He left the US to try to visit his dying mother in Romania but was denied entry and then had trouble getting permission to leave Hungary. He finally got permission to leave Hungary, and was granted a visa at the American consulate for entry to the U.S.

But when he actually arrived at Ellis Island, the U.S. government denied him entry, as a threat to national security. The government refused to disclose why it thought Mezei was a threat. Unfortunately, no other country in the world was willing to take Mezei in, especially now that the U.S. deemed him a threat but refused to say why.

Mezei sued, demanding a chance to hear the evidence against him and respond, to try to prove it was safe to let him go back to his home in New York. He argued that keeping him on Ellis Island was depriving him of his liberty without "due process of law," in violation of the constitution.

As you'll see in the poem, Mezei lost the case. The court's opinion has a single chilling line that has always stood out to me, from the first time I read it: "Whatever the procedure authorized by Congress is, it is due process as far as an alien denied entry is concerned."

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