ISSN 2330-717X

Robert Reich: Helplessness In The Face Of Evil – OpEd

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It’s like watching a three-hundred-pound bully beat up a kid half his size, for no reason — bloodying the poor kid, pulverizing him. Yet you don’t dare try to stop the mayhem because the bully has a gun that he’ll use on you if you intervene.

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You look for police, but there are none.

You round up your friends, who join you in shouting at the bully. But he pays no attention. They threaten that if he doesn’t stop they’ll no longer go bowling with him or invite him out for drinks. Their threats have no effect. The bully continues beating up the kid.

Your friends refuse to take further action. They don’t want to provoke his wrath. They’re as afraid of the bully’s gun as you are.

By now the kid is desperate. You give him some water. He pleads for a knife. You slip him some brass knuckles.

The kid puts up a good fight. You marvel at the kid’s courage and stamina in the face of such brutality. Maybe he can hold the bully off for a while, you think.

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But the kid’s resistance infuriates the bully even further. The bully clobbers the kid with everything he has.

The barbarism is occurring in front of your eyes. It’s revolting to watch. Every moral fiber of your being shouts “do something!” Yet you’re paralyzed. It’s suicide if you intervene, but it’s moral suicide if you don’t.

You want to believe the kid can force the bully to retreat, but you know the kid doesn’t stand a chance.

You can no longer bear witness to this slaughter. You have to avert your eyes. Or you have to act. What do you do?

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies, and writes at robertreich.substack.com. Reich served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

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