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In our quest to honor victims of injustice, we veil the justice system as an avenge vehicle. Someone — guilty or not — has to pay, or there isn’t a sense of completeness, of wholeness, of “justice.” Undoubtedly countless innocents have been sentenced to all sorts of punishment because of this strong urge.
And lastly, these kinds of cases, whether dealing with Nazis or in the Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman case, are even more loaded because they exemplify situations where the alleged aren’t looked at as individuals, but as symbols of the enemy.
By being associated with racism in America and the Holocaust, these two defendants are guilty before trial. If Zimmerman and Michael Karkoc stand trial, and either are found not guilty — despite the case and evidence — it will be a loss to those who attach their victims (and their own worth) to the pain we inflict on the enemy associated with these two men.
Regarding Karkoc, think about what needs to be done if your idea of justice is to see him stand trial. Police will need to escort an old man to a squad car. America will fly him to Europe, and his trial will require the work of hundreds of people and thousands of hours. All the while you’ll hope that he doesn’t pass away, so you can see justice prevail. And if age isn’t a factor, what about health? What if he were senile or unconscious? Would your need for his possible punishment still require a trial?
That’s not justice. It’s a disruption to his family and community and a huge expenditure because we think his punishment provides validation to the deceased and he, as an alleged former Nazi, is the embodiment of evil. And unprincipled or not, this is something the people saying “leave him alone” intuitively understand.
He may have once been a monster, but he’s not anymore. So leave him alone.
Brandon Ferdig lives in Minneapolis and writes at ThePeriphery.com. His book “Reaching New Heights in China: Experiences, Interactions, and Social Observations While Living in The Middle Kingdom” comes out this fall. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter: @brandonferdig.
The Opinion section is produced by the Editorial Department to foster discussion about key issues. The Editorial Board represents the institutional voice of the Star Tribune and operates independently of the newsroom.