Speaking Truth to Power in the 1960s and Today
There are certain individuals with such a strong moral conscience, that they are willing to 'speak truth to power' regardless of its consequences. They are those who raise the collective moral bar, and reorient societies to new ends and goals which are not necessarily the same as those of existing vested interests, thereby creating 'social tension'. MalcolmX was one such individual. He spoke of America's racial divide, and eventually about the deception that were the Black Muslims, the principal religious group to which he belonged. (MalcomX had travelled to the Middle East during Ramadan, and found out for himself what Islam was about.) Rachel Carson was another such individual. She spoke of 'silent springs': places where countless birds had died as a result of private corporate dumping of toxic components into public lands. (The toxic material would become so concentrated in birds, that egg shells would weaken and be unable to hold he bird's own weight during incubation. This depletion would eventually form eerily silent regions without chirping birds.) In both cases, the two unexpectedly died at very young ages, 39 and 56 respectively. While there is no doubt that MalcolmX was assassinated in 1965, Carson rather suspiciously died from breast cancer in 1964, only two years after her book's publication--a book which raised tremendous public awareness, leading to new environmental laws and the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
When you think about the lives of these two individuals, you have to realize how ironic it is that some must have known the truth of their deaths, yet in either case nobody was arrested and prosecuted. I was therefore shocked when, while donating blood and watching the news, I heard Lily Garcia's comments with regard to 'guilt' last week. She spoke of individuals who feel guilty about what they have done to others around them, particularly loved ones such as family or friends. Garcia strangely recommended that you should 1) never confess your crime to the victim and that you should 2) try to make yourself feel better by assisting others. What is so strange about her comments is that they are so extremely 'psychologized', that they completely ignore the possibility that such "guilt" might actually stem from acts which are also legally and criminally reprehensible--as was the case of MalcomX's and (probably) Rachel Carson's deaths. In other words, Lilly Garcia had just used psychology (psychiatry) to rationalize criminal behavior. True reconciliation is not tantamount to ignoring one's complicity, but in actually seeking that those who committed the crimes be brought to justice. In this sense, we might take a 'postmodern' movie as Michael Clayton as to how these events should have ended: the prosecution of all those involved. (In the movie "Michael Clayton", a leading corporate lawyer is arrested and imprisoned for killing Clayton's legal parter who had decried the knowingly abuse of power by the respective agro-company.)