Q: “Why can’t America torture the Nazi prisoners like they are torturing our prisoners?”
A: “We are not going to let the enemy decide who we are.”
I first heard this quote on an episode of Radiolab called Nazi Summer Camp. In the episode, the hosts (Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich) share the story of Nazi prisoners (POWs) who were captured by the Americans in World War II, and brought to a prison in The United States.
In 1943, when word got out that the U.S. government was providing the Nazis’ prisoners with great hospitalities (prisoners were eating ham, drinking liquor, and playing ping pong) the American people were outraged.
The public was calling for harsher sentences for the newly captured Nazis ( including torture).
In response to the outcry, Major General Archer Lerch sharply stated, “We are not going to lower ourselves to Nazi standards. We are not going to let the enemy decide who we are as a country.”
That’s some great perspective.
It’s easy to copy someone’s shitty behavior and feel justified.
On the other hand, that gives them power over who you are.
This is an empowering Radiolab episode because it illustrates how important it is to have principles and morals that override the temptation to copy poor behavior.
I’m a huge fan of the Radiolab podcast and would recommend this as a starting episode if you haven’t’ heard it yet.
Listen to Nazi Summer Camp on Radiolab