DEYAN RANKO BRASHICH was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, and is an Op-Ed columnist for Connecticut's Litchfield County Times.  He writes the monthly Letter From America column for Romania’s Scrisul Romanesc, a literary magazine and is the Editor-at-Large for  The Country and Abroad, another literary/art magazine where he authors the Dispatch from Abroad column. He is a frequent contributor to Pecat, the Belgrade, Serbia weekly news magazine, Britić, a magazine published in the United Kingdom, Ekurd Daily, a multinational Kurdish news portal and Passport, a lifestyle quarterly. He resides in New York City and Washington, Connecticut.



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When does a criminal and immoral act against the body politic become the right thing to do, a “righteous crime”, a “just misdemeanor”?

Had you assassinated Adolf Hitler on August 31, 1939, the eve of World War II, you would have been guilty of murder, a crime in violation of §211 or §212 of the Strafgetzbuch, the German Criminal Code, and a clear violation of God’s Sixth Commandment. In hindsight, because of what Hitler did prior to August 31, and what he would do after, it would have been the right thing to do - to assassinate in cold blood - and that, my friend, would have been a “righteous crime”.

War often defines the difference between crimes and righteous violations of law. The military defeat of the Third French Republic and by the legitimate vote of the French National Assembly on July 10, 1940 Marshal Pétain was granted all the powers of government and established Vichy France. A year of occupation, subjugation and humiliation followed – many laws and regulations including the Statut des Juifs [Statute on Jews] enslaved and brutalized French citizens. On August 21, 1941 a German officer was assassinated in the Paris Metro. The Germans executed three innocent civilians, with the promise that for every German killed thereafter ten Frenchmen would be executed. The killings, assaults and murders that followed were “righteous crimes”, notwithstanding Napoleon’s Code Pénal.

If need arises, duly constituted governments can be toppled by “righteous crimes”. In 1941 the Yugoslav coup d’état replaced the pro Axis Regency and installed King Peter II, a minor to the throne. The coup committed crimes, violated laws and international agreements. But at the time, in the minds of many including the United States and Great Britain it was the right thing to do.

Crimes against property, in times of war it’s called “sabotage”, can likewise be deemed “righteous”. After Germany invaded Poland the Polish Home Army “damaged 6,930 locomotives, set 443 rail transports on fire, damaged 19,000 rail cars “wagony” and blew up 38 rail bridges.”

Righteous crimes do not occur only in times of war. December, 1989 was a time of peace, yet a time of terror in Communist Romania. The dictator Nicolae Ceauseşcu and Elena, his wife were “tried by a drumhead military tribunal on charges of genocide … and abuse of power”. “They were convicted … sentenced to death, and immediately executed on Christmas Day…”

Crimes of violence are felonies. Crimes in the nature of protest are by their very nature mild misdemeanors. During the Vietnam War hundreds of young men “knowingly destroyed, knowingly mutilated” their draft-cards. These acts of civil disobedience were rarely prosecuted. This exercise of free speech, notwithstanding a Supreme Court decision to the contrary, was a “symbol of protest performed by thousands of young men in the US and Canada” which changed the course of history and ended the war. 

While engaged in that war the United States was in state of crisis in 1971. Successive administration had lied, bamboozled and flimflammed the world as to the nature and extent of the conflict. It took one man, Daniel Ellsberg, a mid-level Rand Corporation military analyst willing to violate the Espionage Act of 1917 and face charges of theft and conspiracy carrying a possible sentence of 115 years to bring truth to light. Yet even that was not enough – it took Ben Bradlee, Katharine Graham and The Washington Post and Punch Sulzberger and A. M. Rosenthal of The New York Times committing “righteous crimes”, publishing stolen top secret classified information, to finally bring truth to light for the world to see.

The world today is in crisis due to the erratic behavior of Donald Trump who occupies the White House and because of America’s size and influence has a “unique capability to influence global affairs”. It is the world and not just the United States that is at risk. He has brought on this crisis by disregarding accepted norms of behavior with the usual checks and balances being unmanned by a compliant-do-nothing Congress, including Republicans and Democrats alike, and a “deep state” unwilling to commit “righteous crimes” and “just misdemeanors”.

Donald Trump’s income tax returns, sources of income and source of funding was a critical issue in the 2016 presidential campaign. The norm of tax disclosure was rejected by Donald Trump – the rejection continues to date. A candidate’s suitability for office and his potential for undue and conflict of interest must be fully disclosed to the electorate. It was not. Yet access to the returns at the Internal Revenue Service could be had by any number of individuals. Why did no one, as a matter of civic duty, commit a “just misdemeanor” and make them public? It would have been the right thing to do.

In February, 2017 during advice and consent hearings on the appointment of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General, Senator Elizabeth Warren started reading the 1986 statement of Coretta Scott King, Martin Luther King’s widow, in opposition to his earlier judicial appointment. She was stopped by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with “The senator has impugned the motives and colleague from Alabama”. Sadly, Warren backed down and rather than standing her ground. She stopped reading and was censured, silenced. Her response should have been “Fuck you Mitch”. At best she would have violated a Senate rule, a “just misdemeanor”. Had she been removed from the Senate floor and arrested she would have committed a “righteous crime”.    

On May 24 Republican members of Congress had a classified meeting with Department of Justice and FBI officials with Democrats excluded while the White House Chief of Staff Kelly and Emmet Flood, the president’s lawyer, attended. Democrats should have crashed and stormed the meeting, a violation of some Congressional rules but they would have been doing the right thing.

I have a list of proposed “righteous crimes” that I would like to see committed in getting rid of Donald Trump, the buffoon now occupying the White House, and his cabinet of toadies and ass kissers. I am loath to do so lest I be accused of aiding and abetting, but do not forget to send me your email address, lest I forget.

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