A while back, I posted a blog entry on the Marseillaise scene in the movie Casablanca. I feel compelled to run this entry again as we contemplate yesterday’s terrorist attack on Paris. Whenever we forget that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, we lose. Let’s never forget that, as well as the fact that our little acts of resistance add up, even if they may seem in vain. As Vaclav Havel pointed out in “The Power of the Powerless,” these acts of resistance have an illuminating effect. This is also very relevant as we contemplate the full frontal attacks on the First Amendment happening on college campuses these days. Below is my post from February 28, 2014:
After entry of the US into WWII, Warner Brothers released the classic Casablanca (1942) starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. One scene in Casablanca offers a magnificent juxtaposition with the Bavarian pub scene from The Mortal Storm (1940) discussed in the last post. The place is similar: another restaurant– Rick’s Cafe Americain. Also similar is a cast of Nazi officers, stirring up song (this one “Die Wacht am Rhein.”) But the similarities end there, when one man, Victor Laszlo, tells the orchestra to play the “La Marseillaise.” A thrilled and grateful clientele all rise spontaneously and triumphantly, drowning out the Nazis’ song.
If Laszlo hadn’t done what he did, what then? Chances are everyone would just sit around sulking. The Nazis would then stir up enough folks to sing along with them to the point that the Nazi narrative would seem the majority view. Morale would continue to plummet.
It’s the little acts of resistance that add up to make the biggest difference. These acts plant seeds in others, creating a cascade effect. Sad to say, it’s the power mongers of the world who seem to know this better than the rest of us do. That’s why they insist on our silence as a way station on their road to total control. So let’s not hide our light.