By Risa M. Mandell
“Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose,” so wrote Kris Kristofferson in the song, “Me and Bobby McGee.” He explains beautifully what the line means to him:
For some reason, I thought of La Strada, this Fellini film, and a scene where Anthony Quinn is going around on this motorcycle and Giulietta Masina is the feeble-minded girl with him, playing the trombone. He got to the point where he couldn’t put up with her anymore and left her by the side of the road while she was sleeping. Later in the film, he sees this woman hanging out the wash and singing the melody that the girl used to play on the trombone. He asks, “Where did you hear that song?” And she tells him it was this little girl who had showed up in town and nobody knew where she was from, and later she died. That night, Quinn goes to a bar and gets in a fight. He’s drunk and ends up howling at the stars on the beach. To me, that was the feeling at the end of “Bobby McGee.” The two-edged sword that freedom is. He was free when he left the girl, but it destroyed him.
Our “feeble-minded girl” is the sad state of our Congress, abandoned by its very inhabitants, thereby weakening us from within, sowing the soil for this moment. An illuminating interview with Timothy Snyder entitled “Beware the Destruction of the State” helps us to understand this moment. This moment when refugees, authorized to enter the USA are illegally rejected in transit and after landing. This is cruel and inhumane. This grabs us where it hurts—in our ethos. We’re a nation of immigrants and refugees. And this is done practically coterminous with Holocaust Remembrance Day—coincidence? An ‘in your face’ gesture? A repudiation of Jew = law? Or perhaps we each learn very different lessons from history. Snyder references Hannah Arendt on the removal of law from individuals: “In order to kill a person, you have to kill the juridical person first—you need to remove the law from the person you are killing.” President Trump’s illegal Immigration Order aims at abolishing the state and killing the juridical person.
In contrast to the above, the Humane Party seeks the lawful protection of each individual being of each species.