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Clarity should stop Holocaust references

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | MARCH 10, 2009 7:27 AM

Attorneys defending the former owners of the Agriprocessors kosher meatpacking plant in Postville have now played the Holocaust card in a trial that has become a bizarre chess game of strategy and counterstrategy.

According to the Iowa Independent, Jim Clarity, a defense attorney representing Agriprocessors, has “compared the plight of mounting a defense in the Northern District of Iowa to that of the Jews facing Nazi persecution in 1939 Poland.” Clarity has also referred to the pretrial publicity surrounding this case as “sickening,” and he wants the trial moved to either Minnesota or Chicago simply for his belief that “Iowa is poison.”

In addition to this motion, the defense team has asked that each defendant’s case be handled separately, and the attorneys even went as far to file a motion to dismiss the criminal indictments of Agriprocessors’ executives stemming from the May 2008 immigration raid. Their proposed reason for dismissal? Anti-Semitism on the part of grand-jury members.

Clarity and other defense attorneys would have us believe there is no truth to the mounting claims and charges against Sholom Rubashkin and other Agriprocessor executives and that they are simply the result of a veiled anti-Semitism coming from the Heartland of America. Please. This case has nothing to do with religion. It’s about the law.

Clarity wants us to view Rubashkin with a kind of historical sympathy and simply overlook all his alleged wrongdoings. At this point in the game, he’s going with the strategy of misdirection. Perhaps he wants us to forget that even before the May raid, Agriprocessors had been investigated for water pollution, as well as health and safety violations. Perhaps he wants us to also dismiss the national media attention drawn to allegations ranging from child labor to sexual and physical abuse; from the refusal of immediate medical attention for injuries on the job to the nonpayment of regular and overtime wages. He must want us to turn a blind eye to the charges of document fraud, identity theft, bank fraud, money laundering, and harboring undocumented aliens and instead turn a sympathetic eye to a man whose people has long suffered horrible hardships.

The Holocaust card is overplayed and is a detriment to those who were (and still are) truly affected by it. We hear it everywhere. The teacher who always collects assignments is the Homework Nazi. The chef who won’t dish you any bisque when you ask for an extra roll is the Soup Nazi. Most disputes among polarized bloggers commonly end with at least one of them being called a Nazi. But let’s get something straight.

Following due process and pursuing justice through the law does not make individuals Nazis. Genocide is the most horrific, monstrous crime imaginable, and the Holocaust is the paramount example of genocide. A case in America’s innocent-until-proven-guilty justice system cannot possibly be likened to any happenings of the Holocaust.

When ordinary people and classic sitcoms use the term “Nazi” erroneously, that’s mostly acceptable, but when an attorney uses this term to describe grand-jury members, that is definitely unacceptable. Jim Clarity and his colleagues need to get some class, then they need to get a case.

When the defendant faces charges that combine to carry a possible maximum sentence of more than 2,000 years in prison, hopefully, the Holocaust card isn’t the only one in the deck they have left to play.


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