June 21, 2004
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When reading your story of the persecuted teacher in Arizona, a peculiar sense of deja vu came over me. You see, it is like this: Long ago I had friends in the old DDR, East Germany. Despite what you might have been told, that regime seldom found it necessary to prosecute or imprison anyone despite the widespread disaffection of the East German people. Imprisonment would have required a trial at which the accused would have claimed his rights under the DDR constitution.
So the authorities utilized a far more effective control mechanism: since the state was almost the sole employer (and educator) anyone about whom a secret complaint was filed could be reassigned to a less desirable job or education. No one knew exactly what would initiate the process. Fear alone was quite effective.
My friend was demoted from command of a large warship to night janitor without any legal action. As job reassignment violated no statutory rights, the DDR could claim an exemplary record of respect for free speech.
The DDR also rationed housing and consumption articles by the same method. Everyone had vast amounts of DDR currency, but to purchase anything except bread, sausage and beer required a letter of recommendation from one`s supervisor.
Similarly, many years ago, I was pilloried by the Arizona Republic for suggesting that Navajos, as US citizens, had exactly the same rights as all other citizens and perhaps Indian reservations had become inappropriate. Apparently equality before the law is race hatred. How could I have guessed?
The Arizona Republic`s selective editing of my written words transformed me into the Hitler of the Day. Of course, they did not deign to publish my letter of clarification. The origin of the affair was a letter I received in which the Navajo Nation threatened to try me before the Navajo Court (without appeal) and seize my property in Denver unless I gave Navajos employment preference in my Denver business. I had the temerity to question their authority and cite the outcome of the Indian wars a point against them.
So you see where we are headed.