“Authentic acts of political courage are like blazing comets in the sky. If we are lucky, we might see one or two in our lifetime, fleeting moments when the civic landscape is suddenly illuminated by someone unafraid speak a harsh truth.
And it is those harsh truths that can empower us with a sudden moral clarity, allow us to set aside our usual self-deception, jettison the tyranny of reluctance grounded in fear, and begin the task of slowly and boldly building a just world.”
Prof. D.M.M. Veste
Doctorat de Droit
Faculté de Droit et Science Politique
Université Nice Sophia Antipolis
Two Acts of Political Courage
1. Joseph Welch, 1954
“Little did I dream you could be so reckless and so cruel as to do an injury to that lad. It is, I regret to say, equally true that I fear he shall always bear a scar needlessly inflicted by you. If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty, I would do so. I like to think I’m a gentle man, but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me. …. “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”
Joseph Welch, Chief Counsel for the United States Army, US Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, Washington DC, June 9, 1954, confronting Senator Joseph McCarthy, who had cruelly and recklessly accused a young lawyer, Fred Fisher, of disloyalty. This confrontation set the stage for McCarthy’s eventual censure and defeat.
2. Khizr Khan, 2016
“Let me ask you: Have you even read the United States Constitution? I will gladly lend you my copy … Have you ever been to Arlington Cemetery? Go look at the graves of brave patriots who died defending the United States of America. You will see all faiths, genders, and ethnicities … You have sacrificed nothing and no one.”
Mr. and Mrs. Khizr Khan, parents of US Army Capt. Humayun Khan, Democratic National Convention, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 28, 2016, asking that Republican leaders repudiate the virulent anti-Muslim hatred of a cruel and reckless Donald Trump.