Sunday, August 30, 2009

Who indeed?

I read, with both great interest and mounting horror, this piece in The New York Times Magazine about the killings (though I'd use another, more specific, word) that took place at New Orleans Memorial Medical Center during Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I offer, by way of analysis, this comment by another on a very similar program to the one described in the article,
People, he told his congregation, were not like old horses or cows, to be slaughtered when they were of no more use. If this principle were applied to human beings, 'then fundamentally the way is open to the murder of all unproductive people, of the incurably ill, of people invalided out of work or out of the war, then the way is open to the murder of all of us, when we become old and weak and thus unproductive.' In such circumstances, he asked rhetorically, 'Who can trust his doctor anymore?' -- Blessed Clemens August Graf von Galen, Sermon of 3 August 1941, quoted in Richard J. Evans, The Third Reich At War, p. 98.
I have my doubts, however, that the people (I wouldn't insult other doctors by granting these men and women the same dignity) who made their patients so "comfortable" (if that was indeed their intent) would be capable of taking Cardinal Graf von Galen's point fully.